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LIFE ON THE FARM: YOUR ANCESTOR’S PLACE IN ONTARIO AGRICULTURE Meeting of Uxbridge Genealogy Group We often think of farming as a traditional occupation—something that hasn’t really changed much. But that is not and was[...]
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Finding an 1896 estate file in York County: A step-by-step example, part 2

In part one, we started with the 1895 death of prominent Toronto tobacconist Joab Scales and located his name in the indexes produced by the York County Surrogate Court. When we were unable to decipher the illegible grant number, we consulted the court’s register to find it. We took the newly found grant number 11255 to the User’s guide, and found that the estate file identified by that grant number is located on microfilm number GS 1, reel 1051.

The estate files for York County have been filmed in numerical order by the grant number. The grant number is handwritten on the “jacket” or cover of the estate file, which is just about always filmed at the beginning of the file.

The estate file for Joab Scales contains 26 pages. A digitized version is included at the end of this article so you can read the full estate file. I’ll summarize the documents below and some of the information that can be gleaned—or inferred— from them.

Particularly interesting in this estate file are the changes in Joab’s family situation and how he responded to them with his will and codicils.

There are 16 documents in Joab’s estate file, some with multiple pages, adding up to the 26 images on the microfilm. I’ve listed them in the order in which they appear on the film—although it is not chronological.

1. The first document is the jacket of the estate file—where the contents of the file were summarized so the folded bundle of documents could be easily retrieved. It identifies: “Will and two codicils of Joab Scales” filed January 4, 1896. Note the grant number 11255 at the top and bottom of the page. The other number at the top of the page is the register number and page—you’ll find a picture of that page of the register in the first part of this article because we used it to find the grant number. The law firm Armour & Williams is noted at the bottom. The paragraph written vertically, states that this document is identified by “D” elsewhere in the estate file.

2. Memorandum of fees, January 7, 1896. This document is of no great genealogical value, but it does show some of the process. Note that the will had to be transcribed three times, one of those for the Surrogate Clerk. More about that later.

3. Listing of documents submitted to the court, January 7, 1896. Again of no genealogical significance, but it might identify any missing documents.

4. The Office of the Surrogate Clerk of Ontario was established when the court system was reformed in 1859. Its role was to ensure that only one grant of probate or administration was issued. Document 4 is certification from the Surrogate Clerk that no one else has applied for a grant of probate, nor has any caveat been lodged against the application. It is dated January 6, 1896.

5. This typewriter-written document is the petition for a grant of probate from John Woodford Scales and Charles William Peniston, dated December 1895, and signed by their solicitor. It doesn’t say who John and Charles were, in relation to Joab Scales, but we do learn that:

  • both John and Charles are from Toronto
  • Joab died 4 December 1895 in Toronto
  • Joab lived in Toronto at the time of his death
  • John and Charles are named as executors in the will

The document also lists the dates that the will and codicils were written and estimates the value of the property as “under Twenty one thousand” dollars

6. The next document is an affidavit stating Joab’s date of death and residence by John Woodford Scales. We also learn that John is a merchant and we get his signature.

7. The inventory of Joab’s real estate holdings at the time of his death lists six properties for a total value of $19,200:

  • 90 Gould Street
  • 20 St. Patrick Street
  • four stores on Church Street (numbers 275, 277, 279, 281)

    The four stores on Church Street, referred to as Scales Block, are circled in red on this detail from the 1890 Insurance map of Toronto

    The four stores on Church Street, referred to as Scales Block, are circled in red on this detail from the 1890 insurance map of Toronto. The orange colour indicates brick or masonry construction. (image from Toronto Public Library)

8. Item 8 is another affidavit by John and Charles that the Inventory of real estate is true and complete, and under $21,000 dollars.

9. The next document is a brief inventory of “moveable” property, including an affidavit of its validity by John and Charles.

10. John pledges, in the next affidavit, dated January 2, 1896, that the will and codicils are authentic. (2 pages)

11. The next document is an affidavit by John and Charles that they will “faithfully administer” the estate. It is dated January 2, 1896.

12. Joab’s lawyer Edward Douglas Armour, QC, was one of the witnesses to the signing of his will and all three codicils. As part of proving the will to be authentic, he signed an affidavit on December 30, 1895, that he knew Joab Scales and witnessed the signing of his will and the codicils. (2 pages) Because of this apparent long-term business relationship between Joab and his lawyer, it might be worth investigating whether the papers of Edward Douglas Armour, or his firm Armour and Williams, are available at a local archives.

13. The next and biggest document in the file (seven pages) is the actual will. The last will and testament of Joab Scales was signed on August 18, 1888. The will is rich with family information, but noticeably absent is any mention of his wife. Since she would have considerable claim on the estate, it is reasonable to assume that she had died before Joab. The main provisions of the will are as follows.

  • Joab’s son Christopher Columbus Scales got the store and premises at 249 1/2 Church Street; a gold-headed cane, portraits of Joab and his wife and their deceased daughter Laura.
  • Joab’s daughter Mary Margaret Peniston got the proceeds from the rents and eventual sale of 20 St. Patrick Street. If sold, the money was to be invested to provide an income for Mary. After her death, $500 each would go to Mary’s sons Clifford L. Peniston and Harry Scales Peniston, and the rest to be divided between her other children and grandchildren.
  • Mary Margaret Peniston was also to have the family bible, the piano, bedroom furniture, silverware, plated ware, chinaware, glassware and cutlery, as well as portraits of Joab and his wife, Mary and her husband, and her two boys. She also got the rosewood suite from the drawing room, a what-not cabinet, and a bronze figure of Mercury.
  • Joab’s son John Woodford Scales got the store at 255 Church Street. When he died it went to his widow. When she died or remarried, the trustees were to sell the store and divide the proceeds amongst John’s children. John was also to get the portraits of himself and his wife, and portraits of his sister Rowena Tello and her husband “to do what he pleases with.”
  • Clause 5 left the store at 253 Church Street in the hands of the trustees to earn income for the potential support of Joab’s daughter Rowena Lucinda Tello. They could sell it right away or rent it out. Apparently, Rowena was in an asylum for the insane at the expense of her husband. (The husband’s name is never mentioned, and you don’t have to read too carefully between the lines to understand that Joab did not approve of him.) The trustees could pay any arrears for her treatment, but they didn’t have to. When Rowena died, the trustees were to pay $500 each to any of her sons and daughters who were 21 years old, or who were married. If any of the Tello children entered a religious order of the Roman Catholic Church, they were cut out of the will. The 253 Church Street property was also to produce enough income to pay $1000 to Charles Henry Scales and $500 to Robert Scales Peniston as well as $500 to each of his executors. If Rowena recovered, she was to be paid the income “for her sole and separate use.”
  • Joab’s son Charles Henry Scales got a house and property at Dalhousie and Gould Streets. Charles also got a portrait of himself and his deceased brother Robert.
  • The store at 251 Church Street was to be sold to provide $200 legacies for his granddaughters Carrie and Sally (daughters of Christopher Columbus Scales), granddaughters Maud, Laura, and Mary (daughters of Charles Henry Scales). Maud was the subject of an earlier article. Any residue from the sale of the store was to be divided between Joab’s four children Christopher Columbus, Mary Margaret, John Woodford, and Charles Henry.
  • Joab’s diamond breast pin was left to Harry Scales Peniston. (No other bequest says as much about Joab’s social status, or his relationship with his grandson.)
  • Joab’s three sons were also left his three bronzes. (Mary got Mercury, but the sons had to decide who got the other statues. Annoyingly, Joab doesn’t tell us what the were.)
  • Joab appointed his son John Woodford Scales and his grandson Charles William Peniston as executors and trustees. (Additional research into the ages, locations, and occupations of these two might show why he gave them this responsibility. He also specified that he wanted two people to act, so if either John or Charles was unable or unwilling, another administrator would need to be appointed by the court.)

14. The final three documents are codicils to the will of Joab Scales. A codicil is a signed and witnessed document that adds to or changes the provisions in a will. The first codicil is dated June 27, 1889 (less than a year after the will was signed). The codicil is written after the signatures on the final page of the will and continued on an additional page. It replaced clause five, which provided potential support for Joab’s daughter Rowena. Rowena had evidently died between the 18 August 1888 when Joab’s will was signed and before the June 1889 date of this codicil. Other provisions of clause five remained the same, including the exclusion of any of Rowena’s children who joined a Roman Catholic order. The codicil indicates that 253 Church Street is now 279 Church Street.

15. A second codicil dated September 1890, changed the terms in which Christopher Columbus inherited 249 now 275 Church Street. The property would be held by the trustees to provide an income for Charles and his family until the youngest child was 21. After that Christopher would get the property outright. Similarly, Charles Henry Scales would not get the Gould and Dalhousie property until his children were all 21. He also lost his $1,000 legacy, which was to put towards house repairs and maintenance. Did this reveal Joab’s lack of trust in his sons’ business acumen?

16. A brief, third codicil dated 31 December 1891 revoked the legacies to Carrie and Sally Scales and directed that they should be paid to grandson Harry Scales Peniston. (Now, about this time, the lovely Carrie or Caroline had moved to New York and had taken to the stage. Read more about her in my post on her cousin Maude. Joab would have been unlikely to approve. I don’t know why Sally or Susan was denied.) Harry was to get anything left over after all the various legacies were paid.

Download an image of the complete Joab Scales estate file. Like all estate files, this one shows the progress of the estate through the court, but not how quickly or how well the assets were distributed. If the heirs or creditors were unhappy with the administration, they could take the matter back to the Surrogate Court. There is no record of that occurrence in the estate file, so it would seem that Joab chose his executors well.

For much more information about searching for Ontario estate files and other probate records, see my book, Inheritance in Ontario: Wills and Other Records for Family Historians.

Finding an 1896 estate file in York County: a step-by-step example

Most Ontario counties have published indexes to estate files for the period 1859 to 1900, and some indexes go beyond those dates. But York County is an exception to the rule. It was the most populous county, containing the City of Toronto, and the prospect of creating a modern index was, and is, daunting. Those of us with ancestors in York must use the contemporary indexes created by the courts themselves. The indexes and estate files are on microfilm at the Archives of Ontario and the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, and are available on interloan from both places.

The case we’ll follow is Joab Scales, the tobacconist grandfather of Maude Scales Darby that I wrote about last time.

Knowing the date of death makes the search much easier. Ontario civil registration records tell me that Joab Scales died of heart failure in Toronto on December 4, 1895, age 76.[1] By law, no one could apply to administer his estate until at least seven days after his death—if there was no will, the wait was two weeks. So the search should start with mid December records and continue, if necessary, for up to five years.[2]

The first step, if you’re at the Archives of Ontario, is to consult the printed User’s guide to Surrogate Court microfilm to find the index. This finding aid is divided by counties, and it is important to read the introduction on the first page of each county.[3] The introduction for York County, in the picture below, tells us that for 1896, we need to look at the Original Index Volumes, and record the Grant number. Right below the introduction, we see the Original Index Volumes listed. The year 1896 will be on the first one: GS 2, reel 232.

Archives of Ontario. User's guide to Surrogate Court microfilm, p. 157

Archives of Ontario. User’s guide to Surrogate Court microfilm, p. 157

The next image is from the Original Index Volumes on film GS 2, reel 232. The index is semi-alphabetical by surname—a page or several pages were designated for each letter of the alphabet. As an estate file came before the court, it was added to the appropriate page. For the more “popular” letters, the alphabetization was refined by designating pages for letter combinations. This detail is from a “Sca” page, and you can see that names have been added chronologically.

York County Surrogate Court Index, 1887-1919, detail of "Sca" page, RG 22-303 GS 2 reel 232, Archives of Ontario

York County Surrogate Court Index, 1887-1919, detail of “Sca” page, RG 22-303 GS 2 reel 232, Archives of Ontario

Joab Scales’ name is listed fourth. The grant was of Letters Probate and issued on 7 January 1896. The York County introduction told us to record the Grant number, which is the first column.

Oh, dear: 112?? We’ve been thwarted by the clerk’s misguided attempt to fix his mistake.

We have a couple of choices. (Giving up is not an option.) We could look at all estate files that begin with 112—possibly 99 files averaging 20 pages each—or we could use the Register Book information shown on the right side of the index image. It tells us to look on page 586 of Register Book 26.

So, back to the User’s guide to Surrogate Court microfilm, the York County section, for a listing of the Registers. In the time span that includes 1896, we see that volumes 25, 26, and 27 are all on film MS 583, reel 013.[4]

Archives of Ontario. User's guide to Surrogate Court microfilm, p. 158

Archives of Ontario. User’s guide to Surrogate Court microfilm, p. 158

On the film, we scroll through until we find Volume 26. (Remember there were three volumes on the film and therefore duplicate, even triplicate page numbering to be wary of.)

York County Surrogate Court register #26, cover page, RG 22-302, MS 583, reel 13, Archives of Ontario

York County Surrogate Court register #26, cover page, RG 22-302, MS 583, reel 13, Archives of Ontario

Now, we’re looking for the page 586 that was listed in the filmed Index for Joab Scales. The Register Book recorded the essential information in brief: who died, that the will was proven, who was appointed to administer the estate, and that the administrators had sworn to do so diligently. Format varied over the years, but in 1896, the clerks filled in the blanks in a preprinted form with three names on a page.

York County Surrogate Court register #26, page 586, RG 22-302, MS 583, reel 13, Archives of Ontario

York County Surrogate Court register #26, page 586, RG 22-302, MS 583, reel 13, Archives of Ontario

Here’s a detail shot showing the entry for Joab Scales in the middle of the page—lots of good genealogical information, including his date of death and the names, occupations and residences of his administrators, who may be relatives. The document also states that they were executors named by Joab in his will. This increases the probability that they’re related. But most importantly, for our purposes, it provides the final two digits in that illegible Grant number: 11255.

York County Surrogate Court register #26, page 586 (detail), RG 22-302, MS 583, reel 13, Archives of Ontario

York County Surrogate Court register #26, page 586 (detail), RG 22-302, MS 583, reel 13, Archives of Ontario

Armed with the Grant number, we go back, once more, to the York County section of the User’s guide to Surrogate Court microfilm—this time to the list of Estate Files.[5] We locate our Grant number 11255 in the right time period, 1895–1896, and the final column tells us it is on film GS 1, reel 1051.

Archives of Ontario. User's guide to Surrogate Court microfilm, p. 177

Archives of Ontario. User’s guide to Surrogate Court microfilm, p. 177

So now we’re breathing down the neck of that illusive Joab Scales estate file. Stay tuned for the next episode!

For much more information about searching for Ontario estate files and other probate records, see my book, Inheritance in Ontario: Wills and Other Records for Family Historians.

[1] Ontario death registration #2847 for 1895, as viewed on, August 9, 2013. (Joab had been born in Kentucky. His doctor and informant was Dr. W.J. Hunter Emory. He was a Methodist.)

[2] It is unlikely, but not impossible, that you’d find an estate file more than five years after the death.

[3] The equivalent information can also be found here: The films are available on interloan from the Archives of Ontario or from

[4] Unfortunately, most of the Register Books microfilms are not available on interloan from the Archives of Ontario. However, most of the same Register Books were filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah and are available for interloan from

[5] The equivalent information can also be found here: The films are available on interloan from the Archives of Ontario or from


The life and times of Maude Scales Darby

Sometimes you meet the most interesting people completely by accident. I met Maude Scales Darby in the April 1, 1914, edition of the Toronto World. Of course, I was looking for something entirely different when I stumbled upon her obituary.

Obituary for Maude Scales Darby from the Toronto World on 1 April 1914.

Obituary for Maude Scales Darby from the Toronto World on 1 April 1914.

Maude died on March 31, 1914, at age 43, of Bright’s Disease or chronic nephritis.[1] She was buried a few days later in St. James Cemetery in Toronto.[2]

Maude had lived with her husband William Darby at 60 Briar Hill Avenue. William was circulation manager for the Mail and Empire newspaper. The couple were married in December 1905, both in their 30s. They had no children.

Maude’s obituary (reproduced here) is rich in family details—a genealogist’s dream.

It mentions Maude’s grandfather Joab Scales “the well-known tobacconist”. Joab had relocated to Toronto from Kentucky after the Civil War.[3] Joab appears to have been quite the entrepreneur, building an addition to his factory on Palace Street in 1868,[4] patenting a “tobacco machine” in 1872,[5] and sending samples of his wares as part of a display of Ontario products at the Sydney International Exhibition in Australia in 1876.[6]

Ad for Joab Scales' business from "Ontario as it is". See note 6, below.

Ad for Joab Scales’ business from “Ontario as it is”. See note 6, below.


Joab Scales also had the questionable (but perhaps lucrative) distinction of vouching for “Northrup & Lyman’s Vegetable Discovery” in the company’s newspaper ads.[7]

When Joab died in 1895, it made the papers in Chicago and New York, likely because of his friendship with Jefferson Davis.

Maude had a beautiful cousin, another granddaughter of Joab—Caroline Scales. As a teenager, in about 1891, Caroline moved from Toronto to New York and took the stage name Miskel. She added the name Hoyt when she married playwright and politician Charles Hale Hoyt in 1894. Apparently a very talented actress, as well as a great beauty, Caroline Miskel Hoyt is known as the first “cover girl” appearing in the cover of Munsey’s Magazine in 1891.

It was a remarkable, but short career. Caroline died in New York in 1898 at age 25, probably as a result of complications during childbirth.[8]

Portrait of Maude’s cousin Caroline Miskel-Hoyt on a cut plug tobacco insert card (Knowledge Bank at Ohio State University)

Portrait of Maude’s cousin Caroline Miskel-Hoyt on a cut plug tobacco insert card (Knowledge Bank at Ohio State University)

But the most intriguing episode in Maude’s life was the day she survived the “Iroquois Theatre fire” in Chicago, on December 30, 1903.[9]

The Iroquois was a spectacular new theatre, in a bustling Chicago—the fastest growing city in the West. An imposing sixty-foot high entrance with twinned columns and a massive Greek pediment drew in patrons to a lobby with arched colonnades and graceful staircases. Claims that it was “absolutely fireproof” might have been closer to the truth if the owners hadn’t pushed to have the theatre open before the busy Christmas season—and if the city government and construction industry had not been corrupt.

But as it was, the theatre opened on November 23, 1903, equipped with fire extinguishers meant for household use, an untested fire curtain, an emergency venting system that was still wired shut for installation, balcony exits that were hidden by curtains and secured with difficult-to-open latches, and exterior doors that were locked. Even the metal fire escapes from the balconies were jammed or incomplete.

On the fateful afternoon, a standing-room-only crowd of 2,000—largely women and children on their school holidays—had gathered to see “Mr. Bluebeard” a musical comedy starring Eddie Foy.

Near the beginning of the second act, an arc light sparked and ignited a nearby muslin drapery.

The scene outside the Iroquois Theatre just after the fire (from Chicago's Awful Theater Horror, see note 9)

The scene outside the Iroquois Theatre just after the fire (from Chicago’s Awful Theater Horror, see note 9)

A stagehand attempted to put it out with an ineffective fire extinguisher. The asbestos fire curtain, which should have limited the fire to the actual stage, got caught on rigging and could not be lowered. When stagehands opened large exterior door backstage, thick toxic fumes from the very flammable painted backdrops and draperies swept into the audience, rather than exhausting as they should through the emergency vents.

There were 602 people who perished that day—from asphyxiation, fire, and injuries acquired while attempting to escape the inferno. The location of Maude’s seat on the main floor was probably an important factor in her escape from the theatre and survival. Many of the victims were those trapped in the balconies.

Toronto papers carried extensive news of the Iroquois Theatre fire on December 31, and for weeks following as the inquest was held and additional victims were identified. Many were from Ontario or had family connections here.

Many survivors were also mentioned and sometimes quoted, but I haven’t found any mention of Maude Scales. As a nurse (as her obituary suggests) I wonder if she stepped in to treat the wounded and was never interviewed.

[1] Ontario death registration 2337 (1914), accessed on 3 Aug 2013. This record and others show her full given name to be Ethel Maude.

[2] Section A-Parliament Street, First Grave South of Lot 16-D.

[3] David Gardner, “SCALES, CAROLINE, Caroline Miskel Caroline Miskel-Hoyt,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 12, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed August 2, 2013.

[4] “Buildings in 1868” in The Daily Telegraph, 22 Aug 1868, page 1.
[5] The Commissioner of Patents Journal for 1872, London, page 755.
[6] Sessional Papers, Vol IX, part III, Second Session of the third Parliament of the Province of Ontario, Session 1877, Paper number 33, page 238The province of Ontario as it is, containing manufacturing, commercial, statistical and other valuable information, published by the Ontario exhibitors at the Exhibition at Sydney, New South Wales. Toronto: Ontario Legislature, 1877, pages 7 and 26.

[7] For example, “Nothing Like It” in the Sarnia Observer, 20 Mar 1891, page 7.

[8] David Gardner, “SCALES, CAROLINE, Caroline Miskel Caroline Miskel-Hoyt,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 12, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed August 2, 2013.

[9] There are many accounts of the fire online. One of the best is a well-documented article by Jeremy Oliver at
For a contemporary account, see: Chicago’s Awful Theater Horror by the Survivors and Rescuers. Chicago: Memorial Publishing Co., 1904.
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The Legacy of Magnus Shewan or “The will in the way”, part three

This is the third and final episode, in which I speculate wildly on the reasons for the animosity between Toronto bookseller Magnus Shewan and his niece Margaret Fraser.  If you’re new to the story, it will all make more sense if you read Part 1 and Part 2 first.

In the last episode, we read the wishes of Magnus Shewan in his will:

I more particularly direct that under no circumstances shall the wife or daughter Margaret of my brother have any share or portion of my Estate in consequence of their misconduct towards him.

The brother in question was Christopher Shewan, a few years younger than Magnus. Christopher died about six months before his brother in September 1883, in Guelph, Ontario, where he appears to have moved somewhere between about 1855 and 1861. Christopher appears in the 1856 Toronto city directory (likely compiled in 1855.)[1] The 1861 census shows the family in Guelph—Christopher aged 49, Jane aged 42, and Margaret aged 22.[2]

For most of the more than 25 years that Christopher lived in Guelph, he was a merchant.

But while he lived in Toronto, presumably from about 1841 like his brother Magnus, Christopher worked mainly as a carpenter and builder, maybe with a little land speculation thrown in. In the 1843 city directory, he’s running a boarding house (listed as Christopher Shawan) on Scotch Street. In the 1850 directory, Scotch has become Scott Street and Christopher, now a carpenter, lives at the head of it.

By 1853, the assessment rolls[3] show that Christopher owned three unfinished houses on the east side of today’s Jarvis Street between King and Queen streets, and he lived on the south side of Queen Street. The 1850s were a time of rapid development in Toronto and the transformation of substantial town lots with enough property to have at least a kitchen garden and stable, into much smaller lots for rows of residential and commercial buildings.

A man with some means, like Christopher, grabbed a piece of the action, if he could.

In 1854, Christopher Shewan got into some hot water about a land transaction that ended up in the Court of Chancery. One of the stirrers of the stew pot was Christopher’s wife Jane. In a time when a married women had few property rights, she could protect her eventual inheritance of her husband’s property by refusing to bar her dower. (Dower rights ensured that a widow got at least one third of her husband’s land.) This refusal could effectively stop a sale or mortgage of a property.

Here’s where the wild speculation comes in. I don’t know why Jane prevented the sale—or how Christopher reacted. But I bet he wasn’t pleased.

The parties involved were Christopher Shewan, William Kendrew, Robert Walker, and Thomas Hutchison, and brothers Samuel and Marcus Rossin. Walker and Hutchison were major dry goods merchants; the Rossins ran several businesses. The property involved is not clearly identified in the paperwork—in fact, Judge Esten makes that point in his bench book[4]—but I’m quite sure it was the small parcel at the head of Scott Street.

Plans of Town Lots 1, 3, and 4 from City of Toronto abstract index vol. 17 (see note 5)

Plans of Town Lots 1, 3, and 4 from City of Toronto abstract index vol. 17. Christopher Shewan owned part of Block 3 on the lower plan (see note 5)

Scott Street stopped at Colborne Street in 1854, so the property was on the north side of Colborne, part of Block 3 within Town Lot 3. It was about 30 feet deep and backed onto much deeper lots on the south side of King Street. Christopher acquired the east half of the lot in December 1841, and the west half in June 1845. The original one-acre Town Lot 3 had been purchased in 1824 by the Honorable James Baby, and Christopher Shewan’s property was known as Baby Place (pronounced Bawbee).[5]

Today, Scott Street veers to the west at Colborne to continue as Victoria Street. Part of Block 3 was expropriated for Victoria Street. The rest is now occupied by the King Edward Hotel.

But back to the story.

Let me see if I can explain what happened in 1854. William Kendrew approached Christopher Shewan about selling the property for £287 and change. Kendrew did not disclose that he was acting as an agent for Robert Walker who owned the adjacent property on King Street.

Christopher consulted with another neighbour, Thomas Hutchison, who told him it was a “large” price. Now Hutchison and Walker were business partners, and if Christopher had been aware the Walker was behind Kendrew’s offer—he certainly wouldn’t have gone to Hutchison for advice. (Turns out that contrary to wanting a better deal for his business partner, Hutchinson actually was more interested buying the land to resell to Walker at a profit. That partnership didn’t last long!)

Approximate locations of the above plans: red outline for Town Lots 1 & 4; Block 3 was on the lower edge of the blue box.

Approximate locations of the above plans: red box is Town Lots 1 and 4; Block 3 was on the lower edge of the blue box.

Christopher Shewan agreed to sell the land to Kendrew. Here’s where the chronology gets a little hazy, and the motives become questionable.

The Rossin brothers got wind of the agreement, and “expostulated” with Christopher for not giving them an opportunity of buying it at the same price.

Kendrew, in a effort to complete the deal, requested the deed but was informed that Jane Shewan had refused to bar her dower. I’ll admit that the legal technicalities are a little beyond me, but Christopher and Kendrew did have some options to keep the deal alive, and Kendrew certainly tried.

Sometime later (apparently not late enough to avoid a lawsuit), Christopher made a deal with the Rossin brothers for £300, and Jane Shewan’s dower was duly barred. William Kendrew filed a suit against Christopher Shewan, Marcus Rossin and Samuel Rossin to enforce the original contract.

Judge Esten was not pleased that Kendrew had been put forward as the plaintiff—or had misrepresented himself as the purchaser. Esten felt that Christopher had been deceived, but didn’t believe that Hutchison and Walker were in cahoots. (Not sure I buy that.)

Although he doesn’t exactly say there was anything underhanded going on with Christopher Shewan and his lawyer, Esten notes that the deal should have been handled differently. In the end, despite deception from almost everyone involved, he was of the opinion that the plaintiff, Kendrew, should get the land at the original price.[6]

Those are the facts. Now for some wild speculating.

Why did Jane Shewan refuse to bar her dower? Did Christopher ask her to so he could accept the better offer? Or did Jane find out about the questionable deal—or the better offer—from the neighbours? Was 16-year-old Margaret Shewan involved in the discovery? Seems to me a bustling dry goods store would be a hard place to keep a secret, particularly when all parties lived but a stone’s throw away.

Was Christopher angry at being hoodwinked by Walker, or embarrassed by his own naiveté? How did his wife react to the news? Did Christopher accept that he’d given his word and the deal should go through, only to be thwarted by Jane’s dower rights?

We’ll likely never know. But I can’t help thinking that the family’s departure from Toronto a year or so later may have been precipitated by these events. If that’s so, would Christopher’s brother Magnus Shewan been upset about losing his brother to faraway Guelph? Upset enough to voice his opinion in his will, written just a few years later in 1858?

Did Magnus really hold a grudge against Jane and Margaret for nearly 30 years?

The only thing we know for sure, was that like too many of us, Magnus was guilty of not updating his will!

This is the third in a series of articles about wills and other records of inheritance to support my new book Inheritance in Ontario: Wills and Other Records for Family Historians (Dundurn Press, April 2013).

I had some wonderful help with this article from researchers in Shetland. Thank you to Janice Halcrow for her transcriptions of Shetland newspapers at, and for putting me in touch with Tony Gott who has compiled a marvelous database of names at

The records of the Toronto Necropolis Cemetery were also essential, both the transcription of gravestones by the Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society, and the index to its burial registers at


[1] For more information about Toronto city directories, see my post of September 2, 2012.

[2] Both Ancestry and FamilySearch have hidden the Shewans under the name Sherman. The blessed ability to search either index without a surname—and the unusual forename “Christopher” allowed me to find them.

[3] Toronto in the 1850s: A transcription of the 1853 Tax Assessment Rolls and Guide to Family History Research. (Toronto Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society, 2005)

[4] Archives of Ontario, Benchbooks of Justice James C.P. Esten / RG 22-390-10 / May 1853 – July 1854 / Box 62 / p 11 and 12.

[5] City of Toronto abstract index vol. 17, spine title: “T.L. 1 N. Wellington & 3 & 4 E. Old Toronto”, on microfilm GSU 197315 at the Archives of Ontario. Plan at beginning of volume. Block 3 starts on page 201.

[6] Patton, James, editor. The Upper Canada Law Journal and Local Courts Gazette from January to December 1855, Volume 1. Barrie, Ontario: Barrie Herald, 1855. page 66 (April)



The Legacy of Magnus Shewan or “The Will in the Way”, part two

In the last episode, we learned about Toronto bookseller Magnus Shewan’s death in 1884 and that his niece Mrs. Fraser was surprised when she tried to claim her inheritance—at least according to the Toronto Daily News.

The Globe published a death notice on February 5, 1884:

DIED/ Suddenly, on Monday morning, Feb 4th, Magnus Shewan, age 75 years, a native of Dunrossness, Shetland, and a resident of Toronto since 1841. Funeral on Wednesday afternoon at two o’clock, from his late residence, 21 Dalhousie-st. Friends and acquaintances will please accept this invitation. Shetland papers please copy.

And they did. On March 1, 1884, a similar notice appeared in the Shetland Times.

Now back to the fate of Mrs. Fraser, who I’m now almost certain was the former Margaret Shewan, daughter of Magnus’ brother Christopher Shewan.

Magnus Shewan’s will was written, as the newspaper stated, 26 years before his demise—in 1858. I’ve transcribed it, and the original is also reproduced below.

This is the last will and testament of Magnus Shewan of the City of Toronto in the Province of Canada Bookseller.

I give devise and bequeath all the property real and personal of which I may die possessed to my cousin Magnus Shewan upon trust to sell and dispose of the same as soon after my decease as possible without sacrificing the same but no forced sale within two years which I allow for winding up of my Estate, and to divide the proceeds thereof in manner following:-

One fifth to my mother Agnes Shewan

One fifth to my brother Christopher Shewan

One fifth to my cousin Magnus Shewan to be retained for his own use and benefit

One tenth to my servant Charles Backus

One tenth to my cousin John Harper in Shetland, Scotland, one half of that for himself and the residue to be given by him to such of my relatives as he may consider most in need of it.

One fifth to Magnus, the son of my cousin Magnus.

I’ll interject a little more, here, about the cast of characters. Mother Agnes died in 1865 (7 years after the will was written but 19 years before our Magnus died) and is buried in the Toronto Necropolis in plot L 124S. The nearly illegible gravestone says she was the wife of the late James Shewan and mother of Magnus and Christopher. The plot was owned by Magnus.

Brother Christopher Shewan died less than six months before Magnus on September 12, 1883, in Guelph, Ontario, and was buried the next day in plot L 125 in the Toronto Necropolis. This plot was also owned by Magnus.

Cousin Magnus, as we saw last time, did outlive our Magnus Shewan, and served as administrator of the estate.

Servant Charles Backus has eluded me, and I haven’t identified John Harper of Shetland.

Young cousin-once-removed Magnus (son of cousin Magnus) also survived to inherit.

Now back to the will.

I give my wearing apparel to my brother Christopher.

I will and direct that my mother’s share shall be first paid and that she shall from time to time immediately after my decease have such sums of money out of her share of my Estate as she shall require.

I will and direct that all my just debts and funeral expenses shall be in the first place paid out of my Estate and Effects and before payment of any of the shares or legacies above given except such sums as my mother may require for her support and maintenance.

In the event of the death of any of the legatees above mentioned before me, I will and direct that his or her share shall be divided amongst the others in the proportion of their respective shares of my Estate, and I more particularly direct that under no circumstances shall the wife or daughter Margaret of my brother have any share or portion of my Estate in consequence of their misconduct towards him.

Ah, so it is true. It doesn’t pay to upset Uncle Magnus.

I hereby appoint my said cousin Magnus the Executor of this my will, and I hereby bind myself not to alter this in any way whereby his position or share may be diminished or affected nor to make any other will or codicil without his knowledge or consent while any portion of my present or any future debt to him remains undischarged.

Signed Sealed Published and declared by the said Magnus Shewan the testator as and for his last will and testament this fourth day of December AD 1858… M. Shewan

So, what did Margaret Fraser and her mother do to Christopher Shewan? Were their misdeeds really serious enough for him to hold a grudge from 1858 to 1884?

Well, I have some theories, but you’ll need to wait till next time.

This is the second in a series of articles about wills and other records of inheritance to support my new book Inheritance in Ontario: Wills and Other Records for Family Historians (Dundurn Press, April 2013).


Will of Magnus Shewan, from estate file 5193 (1884), RG 22-305, Archives of Ontario


Page 2 of the will. Click images to enlarge.



The Legacy of Magnus Shewan or “The Will in the Way”

Sometimes it is what is left out of a will—intentionally or not—that provides the intriguing story.

Magnus Shewan was a Toronto bookseller who operated a shop in the arcade of St. Lawrence Market from about 1845, and from about 1862, on King Street. At the time of his death on February 4, 1884, the bookstore was at 150 King Street East at the corner of Jarvis. The building still stands, one of the few surviving examples of the scale and type of architecture that lined both sides of King Street when it was Toronto’s main thoroughfare.

This article from the Toronto Daily News, 8 Feb 1884, introduced me to Magnus Shewan.

This article from the Toronto Daily News, 8 Feb 1884, introduced me to Magnus Shewan.

Mr. Shewan first came to my attention in this article from the Toronto Daily News of February 8, 1884. Please take a minute to read the sensational account of poor Mrs. Frazer who presumed she was in the will—and presumed incorrectly. Maybe a little bossy, too, was poor Mrs. Frazer.

This niece of Magnus Shewan was likely the wife of George Fraser (rather than Frazer), listed in the 1884 city directory as an engraver for Masters and McPhail, moulding and frame makers. The Frasers lived at 24 Widmer Street.

Now to consult the estate file, to see if the newspaper got the story right.

Beginning in 1859, estates in Ontario were handled by county surrogate courts. Family members or friends or other parties would apply to the court to be appointed to administer the estate. If the deceased left a will, it would usually be the person(s) named as executors. The court would decide if the applicant was suitable, and after having them fill out the appropriate paperwork, pay the fees, post a bond and swear to do a good job, a grant of probate or administration would be issued.

Magnus Shewan died in Toronto, so his estate was proven in the York County Surrogate Court. The records (and nearly all Ontario estate records) are at the Archives of Ontario. Most are on microfilm and available on interloan from the Archives of Ontario, or through

The first step is to consult a semi-alphabetical index that shows name, residence, type and date of grant, and a grant number. Semi-alphabetical means all the “S” names are listed together, but not sorted beyond that. However, they are recorded chronologically, and since we know Magnus died in February 1884, we can start looking for “Shewan” shortly after that.

In 1884, Magnus Shewan's bookstore was on the corner of King and Jarvis in this yellow brick building dating from the late 1840s. ©Jane E. MacNamara

In 1884, Magnus Shewan’s bookstore was on the corner of King and Jarvis in this yellow brick building dating from the late 1840s. ©Jane E. MacNamara

For York County, the estate files are arranged on the microfilm numerically by the grant number in the index.

Magnus Shewan’s estate file, grant number 5193, contains the following documents:

  • application to administer the estate from the deceased’s cousin, also named Magnus Shewan
  • certificate from the Surrogate Clerk’s office ensuring that no one else has applied
  • oath of the executor (cousin Magnus) that he will “faithfully administer”
  • the will, written in 1858 and witnessed by Hector Cameron and Adam Crooks, naming cousin Magnus as executor
  • affidavit stating the date of death by cousin Magnus
  • affidavit that the will is genuine by witness Hector Cameron
  • affidavit of the value of property ($3,689 personal effects and $5,200 in real estate)
  • inventory of the estate

What about poor Mrs. Fraser? Is she in the will or out of luck? Stay tuned till next time!

This is the first in a series of articles about wills and other records of inheritance to support my new book Inheritance in Ontario: Wills and Other Records for Family Historians (Dundurn Press, April 2013).

Using cameras and scanners at archives and libraries in Toronto

Capturing images of original documents at a library or archives has never been easier. There are so many choices of technology it is tough to keep up—for both researchers and the library and archives staff who make policies about their use.*

Next week, I’ll be leading Genealogy Summer Camp participants to archives and libraries around Toronto. To provide them with up-to-date information, I contacted each of the repositories we’ll be visiting for their current policies, which are summarized in the following chart. I asked them to consider two types of scanners—a “slide-across-the-document” scanner like the Magic Wand by VuPoint Solutions, and the portable “flat bed” scanner Flip-Pal.

I was very pleased to get prompt and carefully considered answers from all concerned. Libraries and archives strive to provide great access for researchers, but they have to balance that access with protecting their collections from potential damage—so the documents will be available for future researchers.

Here are a few factors mentioned by respondents behind their policies:

  • A high intensity light source must be used to capture the image and light damage is cumulative and permanent. When the institution makes a digital copy (either by scanning or photography) a copy can be saved for future access therefore preventing the need for multiple exposures to the high intensity light. If a personal scanner is used, a copy is not retained by the institution and thus each time a copy of the image is requested the object must be subjected to light again.
  • To capture an image the document must have direct contact with the surface of the scanner. This can cause damage to items that are creased when they are forced flat without humidification beforehand. When an archives make copies of items that are creased they are flattened by conservators beforehand to prevent tears and splits in the paper.
  • Wand-type scanners have the potential to damage the surface of old paper, photo emulsion, and to catch on fragile edges.

My little “study” covered only those Toronto venues we’ll visit during Summer Camp. Whenever and wherever you research, bear in mind that the rules at each repository may be different and they are bound to change from time to time. Please ask the staff on duty before you pull out your camera or scanner. If allowed, use your device carefully.

I know, if you’re reading this article, that you appreciate seeing the ink, the texture and tone of the paper, the hundred-year-old fingerprints, and the history woven into an old document. Let’s think of the future, too, and do everything we can to preserve it.

NOTE: Table has been updated to May 27, 2015.

Repository Digital cameras without flash Portable scanners Notes
Archives of Ontario Allowed Not allowed Researchers must read and sign the Self-Serve Digital Copy Service guide before taking photographs.
City of Toronto Archives Allowed Not allowed New book scanners are available in the Research Hall. Researchers can save images to a USB key.
Anglican Diocese of Toronto Archives Allowed with staff permission Not allowed Check with staff before using your camera.
Presbyterian Church of Canada Archives Allowed Not allowed No photos of registers more recent than:
95 years for baptisms
80 years for marriages
70 years for deaths/burials
Digital camera users are charged 25¢ per image.
Archdiocese of Toronto Archives (Roman Catholic) Allowed with staff permission Not allowed Digital photographs of the microfilm screen may be allowed with special permission on a case-by-case basis.
The United Church of Canada Archives Allowed with staff permission Not allowed No tripods. Researchers must fill out a request form listing items to be photographed.
North York Central Library—Canadiana Department Allowed Wand scanners are allowed for non-fragile material. Flat bed scanners are not allowed. Do not scan fragile books. Consult with staff if in doubt.
Toronto Reference Library Allowed Wand scanners are allowed for non-fragile material. Flat bed scanners are not allowed. Do not scan books that are marked “do not copy” or books that appear fragile. Consult with staff if in doubt. Staff may know of an alternate version that can be copied. Scanners may not be used to copy any Special Collections manuscripts, books, maps or photos, etc.

* Please note that while an archives or library may permit you to copy an item for your personal use and study, you must still obtain permission from the copyright holder to publish the image on paper or online. You should also request permission to use the image for a display or in a presentation.

A story… from one record

The best thing we can do to get to the truth of an historical event or to understand an ancestor’s life is to look at all the information available. All the documentation we can get our hands on. All the background we can learn about the family, social, political, economic, even meteorological events that were happening at the same time.

But sometimes an individual record can present a compelling story all on its own—one that makes us pause—a story that leads to speculation and maybe asks more questions that it answers.

Let me introduce you to Elijah Peet. Before you ask, we’re not related, but doesn’t he have a wonderful name?

I met Elijah through his estate file in the Surrogate Court of the District of Johnstown[1] in Upper Canada.[2]

Elijah died in 1803. I know this because letters of administration were issued on January 5, 1804. By law, since Elijah had not written a valid will, the administrators had to wait at least two weeks to apply to the court.

An estate file, in Ontario, is a collection of documents that were either presented to the court or issued by the court, relating to the distribution of an individual’s worldly goods—whether or not the person had a will.

In Elijah’s file, I found the following documents:

  • Administration bond of £100 from administrator Peet Selee, with Samuel and Levius Sherwood, issued January 5, 1804
  • A “true and perfect inventory”
  • Wording for an ad for the “vendue” of Elijah’s possessions
  • An accounting of the vendue (who bought what items)
  • An account of expenses incurred by the administrator

What can we glean from each of these documents?

The bond—although we don’t have his application, the fact that Peet Selee was appointed administrator means that the court felt it was a suitable choice. He may have been a relative, or relatives stepped aside and did not challenge his appointment.[3] Peet could write, and fairly confidently. Peet Selee [Seelye] is called “yeoman” of Elizabethtown. The other names on the bond, Samuel and Levius Sherwood, were both prominent citizens, and court officials. They were probably chosen because they were good for the £100 rather than for a relationship with the deceased.

The inventory—one of the responsibilities of administrator Peet Selee, was appraised on March 28 by David Alexander and Isaac Booth and filed with the court on March 29, 1804. It included:

  • 1 mare and colt
  • 1 bridle
  • 1 pair saddle bags
  • 1 great coat, pair of boots, pair of shoes
  • 1 shaving box, 1 razor and case
  • Set of shoemaker’s tools, bag and leather apron
  • 3 lasts, 2 coats, 2 vests, 2 pr of pantaloons
  • 1 pair of trousers, 3 shirts, 4 pairs of stockings
  • 4 muslin handkerchiefs, 1 silk handkerchief
  • 1 cotton handkerchief, 1 snuff box, 1 knife
  • 1 pocket book, 1 pinchbeck watch[4]
  • 1 pair of galoshes, 1 hat and cover

The belongings added up to £25, 18 shillings. I find it curious that Elijah seems to have had no household goods—not a stick of furniture or a cooking utensil. It looks like he could pack just about everything into his saddlebags. Was he an itinerant shoemaker or an elderly boarder, perhaps? What did galoshes (spelled gallows’s) look like in 1804?[5] What’s the difference between pantaloons and trousers?

The next document, reproduced below, is an example of early Canadian copy writing—an advertisement for a “vendue” of the property of Elijah Peet, deceased. The vendue (a period word for a public sale) was to be held on April 7, 1804, at James Curtis’ inn in Elizabethtown. Was the advertisement to be published in a newspaper, printed up as a broadside, or just tacked up on the door of the inn?

Advertisment for the sale of Elijah Peet’s belongings (Archives of Ontario, Leeds and Grenville United Counties Surrogate Court estate files, RG 22-179, MS 638, reel 28)

The vendue, under the auspices of Vendue Master Jonathan Mills Church, seems to have been moderately successful. Everything was sold and the amount earned was less than £1 under the appraised amount. The list of buyers, though, is short: William Jones, Justice Seely, Reuben Mott, Elias Peck, Phillip Masterson and Jehisda Boice. Jonathan Mills Church, himself, bought two pair of stockings, and Peet Selee acquired 11 items, including the mare and colt and the pinchbeck watch. (Elias Peck became the proud owner of the galoshes for six shillings.)

The final document is an account of the expenses incurred by Peet Selee on behalf of the estate, and perhaps also during Elijah’s last months. It is difficult to read, but it seems to go back to October 1802, when Elijah owed Peet Selee for a quantity of pork and three quarts of salt, a three point blanket, a large powder horn, shoeing a horse, and “working and mending”. Selee seems also to have made traps and carried them to the river for Elijah.

The next expense is 15 shillings for “The Search of him Before he was found”, followed by charges for letters of administration, keeping Elijah’s horses, setting up the vendue, and other incidentals up to at least the day of the auction. The expenses total £25 and 17 shillings—unfortunately a shilling less than the inventory evaluation, but a little more than what was raised by the auction.

Does Elijah Peet’s estate file (a single record) paint a complete picture of his life—or death? No, but it does add valuable colour and clues. I’ll leave it to his family to follow those clues.


[1] Johnstown was one of seven districts into which Upper Canada was divided at this time. Each district had its own surrogate court that handled most estates. For more information about Districts, see the Archives of Ontario online exhibit.

[2] Elijah Peet’s estate file can be found in Leeds and Grenville United Counties Surrogate Court estate files, RG 22-179, MS 638, reel 28, Archives of Ontario. Your local library can get the film for you on inter-loan from the Archives of Ontario, or you can have it brought from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City to your local FamilySearch centre. The FamilySearch film number is 1312274.

[3] There’s a Peet Selee in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography whose wife’s surname was Peet. I have not verified that this is the same person.

[4] Pinchbeck could refer to either the 18th-century London clockmaker, Christopher Pinchbeck, or a copper-zinc alloy he invented that looked like gold.

[5] Read more about galoshes from the University of Washington.

Runabout, Phaeton or Touring Car?

You never know what you might find in the records of the dry-sounding “Department of the Provincial Secretary”at the Archives of Ontario. The Department was an all-encompassing, catch-all arm of the Ontario government from which other departments “hatched” when they were needed.

Motor vehicle license 48, Archives of Ontario RG 14-48, MS 261

Motor vehicle license 48, Archives of Ontario RG 14-48, MS 261

In 1903, the government decided that they really ought to keep track of these new-fangled automobiles. The Provincial Secretary’s Office got the job for the first dozen years.

The following list is transcribed from a bound book of the first licenses issued, from August 1903 to May 1904. The pages have a perforation on the right where the owners’ copies were detached. They’re in numerical order—a bit messed up at the end. John C. Eaton had the honor of licenses number 1 and 2.

As you can see in the sample, each license shows the type of car, who made it and what made it go, as well as an address for the owner. Many of them also show subsequent owners of the vehicle—taking the records beyond the 1904 date. That’s why you see some license numbers on the list more than once.

Interesting to see the variety of manufacturers, some recognizable like Olds, and Rambler, and CCM (the middle C for Cycle), but lots of others.

Interesting to see the variety of owners, too. Some recognizable names, lots of doctors, mostly in Toronto. I may just write more about some of them.

You can find the licenses (RG 14-48) at the Archives of Ontario on microfilm MS 261.

Vehicle owner Post Office License number
Alexander, W H Toronto 7
Anderson, J A Toronto 106
Andrews, E St. Mary’s 130
Applegath, L J Toronto 214
Arlidge, Walter F C Meaford 124
Armstrong, Arthur L Toronto 21
Arnott, H G Hamilton 212
Atkinson, T.R. Simcoe 94
Auld, James W Toronto 135
Austin, Chas A Simcoe 120
Bailey, F W Toronto 13
Baille, Mrs Frank Toronto 186
Baillie, F W Toronto 45
Baillie, James W Toronto 45
Barard, C.E. London 153
Barthelines, A A Toronto 391
Beardmore, Alf O Toronto 98
Beardmore, Alfred Owen Toronto 204
Beatty, A A Toronto 87
Beck, Charles Toronto 174
Bell, A Toronto 35
Bernard, C.E. London 113
Berouse, H Ottawa 345
Bickford, E H Toronto 110
Blackburn, A R Toronto 225
Blackstock, Thomas Gibbs Toronto 179
Blain, E B Forest 205
Bohns, W Toronto 391
Bolme, W Toronto 54, 55
Bond, J 130
Boosberry, John Walker Oshawa 184
Bothwell, Wm D Barrie 201
Bourne, Joseph Toronto 58
Bowman, C.W. Ingersoll 146
Boys, Mr Barrie 86
Bradley, W J Toronto 165
Brennan, John Toronto 111
Bronson, W G Ottawa 96
Brown, F C Toronto 182
Burnham, Cap Toronto 206
Butcher, Nelson R Toronto 74
Cameron, Jno H Ottawa 227
Cameron, M C Toronto 160, 163
Campbell, A H 219
Campbell, F J Toronto 226
Cane, E S Newmarket 34
Carruthers, Mr Montreal 338
Cawthra, John J Toronto 15
Chandler, Walter Howard Toronto 4
Chatterson, A E Toronto 35
Clark, T K Toronto 75
Clark, T N or T F Toronto 217
Clendenning, W M Hamilton 98
Cline, A Vance Grimsby 130
Cockshutt, H. Brantford 180
Cohoon, E B Lakeview 151
Cooper, C R Toronto 20
Copeland, Robert J Toronto 173
Cornell, C W Chatham 196
Cotton, J M Toronto 31
Crawford, A.M. Wingham 236
Crofton Storage Battery Co Toronto 195
Cronyn, V London 136
Cross, Fred S Toronto 85
Cuffle, T E Toronto 270
Darch, F J London 113
Darragh, A J Toronto 245
Dean, W G Toronto 67, 167
Dixon, W V or James Toronto 11
Dixon, William V Toronto 137
Doherty, Thomas Sarnia 180, 202
Doolittle, P E Toronto 3
Doran, William L Niagara Falls 218, 249
Duffield, James C. London 147
Dunbar, Harris T Buffalo and Port Colborne 143, 199
Dunlop Tire Co Toronto 33
Durnford, Isabella C Sarnia 126
Eagen, T H Toronto 84
Eagleton, James H Hamilton 157
Eaton, John C Toronto 1, 2
Eaton, R W Toronto 178
Eaton, R Y Toronto 71, 73
Eaton, The T E Co Limited Toronto 181
Eddington, Jas A Toronto 160
Edwards, C M P Ottawa 297
Ellis, C W St. Thomas 228
Ellis, Calvin W St. Thomas 153
Ellis, R Y Toronto 80
English, E A Toronto 5
Estabrook, T H Toronto 49
Fanguier, G E Ottawa 131
Farmer, D Ancaster 234
Farrington, George Picton 128
Fawcett, James Toronto 61
Flavelle, J N Toronto 342
Fountaine, A A Ottawa 96
Foy, J V Toronto 246
Foy, James C Toronto 60
Franklin, S Toronto 54
Gage, W J Toronto 189, 190
Gardener, Chas A Foxboro 134, 155
Gibson, W J Bellevile 349
Good, Nelson Berlin 172
Gooderham, George Edgar Toronto 195
Gooderham, George H Toronto 6, 152
Gormaly, James Alexander Mimico 66
Graning, S O Hamilton 93, 95
Grant, E C Ottawa 248
Grantham, A M Toronto 221, 335
Gray, Jennie Toronto 115
Gray, Robert Chatham 197, 219
Greening, S O Hamilton 265
Greig, W J Toronto 27
Gross, J F 280
Gruning, S O Hamilton 95
Gullen, J B Toronto 8
Gurney, William Cromwell Toronto 24
Haggans, John R Toronto 184
Hall, G W Little Britain 237
Hands, W J Toronto 51
Hardman, Lt Col W G Ottawa 139, 244
Harmer, R Toronto 42
Harn, J S Merritton 164
Harterick, A G Toronto 344
Harvey, J A Toronto 45
Harvey, William Case Toronto 46
Hay, Dr Toronto 76
Hay, Stephen M Toronto 100
Hayes, A M Sarnia 125
Henderson, G E Toronto 19
Henderson, R B Toronto 69
Henderson, R S Toronto 133
Henderson, Robert Irwin Toronto 64
Hezzelwood, Oliver Oshawa 166, 242
Hill, J F Lake Simcoe 36
Hill, James Toronto 141
Hofland, John James Toronto 159
Hoidge, J R Toronto 23
Holborn, Walker Sutton West 55
Holder, R B Toronto 101
Holmes, Kingsley, Chatham 348
Howitt, W H Toronto 239
Hunter, John H Toronto 33
Hurndall, C W Toronto 59
Hyslop Bros Toronto 43, 51, 245
Irish, Mark H Toronto 18
Ivey, John D Toronto 44
Jermyn, Jas Toronto 32
Jerome, James Mourne Tilsonburg 114
Johnson, W A Toronto 92
Karr, G.S. (Mayor) Beamsville 100
Kemp, W H Toronto 56, 57
Kent, B Toronto 43
King, H Berlin 144
Knowles, W E S Dundas 215
Langley. J P Toronto 336
Langstaff, Dr Toronto 53
Langstaff, Rolph L Richmond Hill 192
Larter, Edward Toronto 231
Lashley, John C Toronto 245
LeBel, Godfroid Ottawa 171
Leclerc, Alfred Ottawa 170
Lick, Jerry Oshawa 145
Livingston, W L Toronto 216
Loose, Jas M Toronto 50
MacCallum, J M Toronto 91
Macklem, Miss Toronto 347
Madigan, Mr Toronto 117
Maguin, A W Hamilton 140
Maguire, D F Toronto 76
Main, J J Toronto 339
Main, John J Toronto 47
Malloch, Stewart E Hamilton 103, 104
Marshall, D., Aylmer 101
Martz, John Galt 172
Massey, A L Toronto 5
Massey, C A Toronto 86
Massey, C D Toronto 12
Matthews, W W Toronto 71
Maxwell, D.A. Watford 28
McBride, A H Toronto 117
McCollum, J H Keighley Toronto 265
McCrackin, T F London 130
McDonagh, J A Toronto 14
McDonald, Albert A Toronto 17
McDonald, D Toronto 235
McDonald, J A Toronto 23, 229, 335
McElroy, John A Toronto 52
McGee, H Toronto 72, 213
McHardy, Jno Guelph 144
McLachlan, Geo Toronto 99
McLeod, H C Toronto 191, 226
McMahon, Frank Toronto 38, 39, 209, 210
McMartin, Duncan Toronto 240
McMartin, John, London 240
McMichael, S W Toronto 9
Mehan, J J Watford 109
Meyers, G Toronto 216
MFarlane, John Ottawa 343
Millar, F F Napanee 4
Millen, Charles H Hull, Quebec 227, 233
Miller, Frederick Fraser Napanee 133
Milne, Harvey Toronto 40
Moodey, Wm Jas Toronto 44
Moodie, J R Hamilton 107, 108
Moodie, John Hamilton 67, 175
Moore, Monte Sarnia 162
Morrow, J H Brighton 40
Mowery, W C Toronto 168
Murray, Charles S Toronto 11
Murray, T S Toronto 346
Mutton, Frank E Toronto 31
Nairn, J J Aylmer 109
Neff, A H Benton Humberstone 116
Neuber, Isaac Waterloo 230
Normile, W J Toronto 40
Northey, J P Toronto 81
O’Keefe, J. T. Chatham 198
Ostrom, Mr 346
Parker, John T Toronto 16
Payne, Wm London 78
Peatt, Bath Stoney Creek 93
Pellatt, Henry M Toronto 161
Perfect, A H Toronto Junction 129
Phillips, Heber Bacon Toronto 238
Pogue, W H Little Britain 194
Poole, J A C Toronto 8
Price, Joseph Toronto 187
Prout, Rich’d Forest 151
Pulling, William J Windsor 156
Quinn, John F St Catharines 232
Rea, A E Toronto 220
Reade, Edgar P Toronto 37
Reaves or Reans, Campbell Toronto 22
Reid, Andrew H Toronto 97
Reid, D D Toronto 62
Reid, Thos Walkerville 90
Riky, R A Shelburne 127
Robin, V Toronto 182
Robinson, Alby, Woodstock 187
Robson, R Toronto 241
Roden, Frank Toronto 193
Rogerson, Wm Toronto 142
Rolston Electric Laundry Co Toronto 26
Ross, W J Barrie 200
Rowan, Thos A Toronto 65
Rumsey, C S St. Mary’s 122
Russell, T A Toronto 186
Ryerson, S W Toronto 10
Ryrie Bros Toronto 79
Savage, E B Toronto 185
Scadding, H Crawford Toronto 163
Sheridan, John T Toronto 203
Sherk, L Hamilton 105
Shigesaburo Ubu Kata Toronto 48
Simpson, D Ridgetown 219
Sinborn, Edwin London 138
Smette, Harry Hamilton 205
Smith, David Toronto 168
Smith, G B Toronto 25
Smith, M C Burlington 188
Smith, R H Toronto 70
Sovereen, S M Simcoe 123
Spalding, Chas Toronto 215
Stephen, Chas Windsor 149
Stevenson, R M Toronto 64
Stevenson, Robt M Toronto 102, 337
Stevenson, William Aurora 211
Stonge, H E Toronto 88, 119
Storil, J D Oshawa 247
Thompson, G W Toronto 148
Timmerman, H P Toronto 83
Tisdale, J.P. Clinton 243, 128
Todd, William Orillia 132
Toll, Edwin N Hamilton 130
Turnbull, W F Toronto 29, 57
Upthegrove, E Toronto 23
Wade, Osley Toronto 340
Warde, Frank Allandale 217
Watson, Albert D Toronto 112
Watson, Robert Toronto 41
Weber, M E Toronto 82
Webster, A F Toronto 63
Wells, Harry Toronto 118
Wenino, Paul Sarnia 150
Wescott, B G Leamington 154
Wesley, Dr Aurora 76
West, R C Woodstock 68
White, Frank Toronto 47, 247
Whittaker, Richard Sarnia 126
Wideman, L C Guelph 177
Wilcox, Horace W Hamilton 176
Williams, Geo Guelph 121
Wilson and Co Ottawa 83
Wilson, S Frank Toronto 62
Wilson, W W 280
Wilson, Wm Toronto 24
Wolk, A E Toronto 206
Wood, E R Toronto 77
Woodman Bros Hamilton 158, 169
Woolson, John Toronto 53
Wright, Jos Toronto 30, 224


A Library at the Archives of Ontario?

I’ve never seen it. But I know it is there.

In fact, I’ve spent many hours over the last few months looking at treasures from the J.J. Talman Library at the Archives of Ontario. The name is new, but the library collection dates from the beginnings of the AO over a hundred years ago.

Gathered to compliment the archival holdings of the Archives, the library provides context. This works both for the archivists who have to figure out the manuscript records acquired by the AO and describe them in inventories and finding aids, and of course for researchers like me.

As a researcher, I want to see what was written about an event or a process as it was happening—or even before it happened. I want to know what the people I’m studying were thinking—or at least what society wanted them to think.

I also want the analysis of other historians over the years, the story 20 years after the event, 50 years later, and the perspective of today.

The Library has about 75,000 items—books, Ontario government publications, periodicals, microfiche and film, and pamphlets.

There ought to be a better word for pamphlets. There are about 12,000—rare, unique, often quirky. Advertising catalogues, tourist brochures, little local histories, sermons, political speeches, programs—all remarkable signs of their times.

You might well ask, “If the Library is invisible, how do I get this wonderful stuff?”

Well, start with BIBLiON: The Archives of Ontario Library Online Catalogue. It is about as simple and straightforward as it could be. I’d recommend the “keyword anywhere” option for most searches of the 24,000 titles included.

If you’re at the Archives, ask staff for a Library retrieval request form, fill it out, and the items will magically appear in the Reading Room. If you’re looking at BIBLiON at home, you can check off the items that interest you, then “show selected records”. Copy and paste them into an email. Clean the formatting up a bit, add a nice note to tell them when you’re coming, and send it off to You’ll get an email or a phone call when it is ready for you.

I mentioned 24,000 titles in BIBLiON. About a third of the collection. Much of the rest is listed in a series of 22 finding aids, some on paper and some online, but all shown here.  Finding aid L 23 for newspaper collections can be found online here.

There is, indeed, a Library at the Archives of Ontario. I’m sure of it.