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LIFE ON THE FARM: YOUR ANCESTOR’S PLACE IN ONTARIO AGRICULTURE May Meeting of Toronto Branch OGS: Speaker Jane E. MacNamara We often think of farming as a traditional occupation—something that hasn’t really changed much. But[...]
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The Other Directories: Society Blue Books

My ancestors were not listed in anybody’s “blue book.” Nevertheless, blue books or society registers provide a fascinating glimpse into the way the other half lived, and to which my relatives may have aspired.

Selected blue books in the Marilyn & Charles Baillie Special Collections Centre at Toronto Reference Library

Why blue? Blue seems to have been the colour of choice for many official lists for more than 400 years in the UK and North America. Perhaps it was the permanence of the blue dye that made the books feel authoritative? The topics were diverse, so the connection to “blue blood” is probably a red herring. Whatever the reason, the name “blue book” stuck.

The Royal Blue Book from London, England, began publication in about 1820. The 1911 edition claimed to give the “names and addresses of the better class private residents”. It was issued twice a year, at Christmas and in May. The book was aimed at the audience it represented—and would have been an essential reference for hostesses and for guests at the grand houses. The pages were also full of information about government departments, banks, insurance companies, sporting events, and clubs. Advertisements were tasteful and tailored to the clientele—no butchers, but “diamond and pearl merchants.”

The first blue books in North America were published in the US in the 1880s, and really seemed to hit their stride around the turn of the century.

The Élite Directory and Club List of Toronto was published by James Bain, a bookstore owner, in 1894. Like most North American blue books it also took on the task of gently informing the new élite about etiquette—what stationery to use, when one could pay a visit, how to reply to an invitation, and how guests ought to be introduced. The Élite Directory included street listings—but of course not just any streets. It listed the members of twelve “worthy” clubs, and the officers of military regiments.

A sample of families listed in Tyrrell’s 1903/4 Society Blue Book of Toronto, Hamilton and London

A new edition of The Elite Directory was published in 1898 along with Foster’s Toronto Blue Book and Home Directory. A New York company also produced Dau’s Official Blue-book for Toronto the same year. Annual or biennial blue books for Toronto were produced by a number of different publishers—Foster’s, Wm. Tyrrell, and Dau’s—from 1900 to about 1912.

pages showing advertisements

Services for the well-heeled in Tyrrell’s 1904/4 blue book

The books came back in full force in 1921 with William J. Covington’s The Torontonian Society Blue Book and Club List. It was a bigger, more appealing book with photos of society events and club facilities. It was published regularly until 1946.

For a family historian, blue books can add details to your ancestor’s story—their address, summer residence, what days they were willing to receive visitors, and to what clubs and organizations they belonged. Maiden names were usually supplied for married women, and if adult children were living apart, their residences might also be listed. Some blue books supplied brief biographies for some individuals—presumably for a fee.

It is very interesting to see the goods and services offered by advertisers to the well-heeled readers—everything from insurance, fine furniture, fashion, to medical services and finishing schools.

Most of the Toronto blue books can be found at the Toronto Reference Library. Some have been digitized by the Library and other organizations. You’ll find a list of titles, locations and available links below.


Toronto Blue Books

This chronological list includes locations where you can find each blue book in Toronto (in parentheses) as well as links to online versions when available. Libraries are abbreviated as follows:

  • TRL = Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street
  • OGS = Library of the Ontario Genealogical Society, housed at TRL (see above)
  • CIHM = Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions (a fiche collection available at TRL and most Canadian university libraries)

1894: The élite directory and club list of Toronto. Toronto: James Bain & Son, 1894-5. (TRL)

1898: The élite directory and club list of Toronto. Toronto: James Bain & Son, 1898. (TRL)

1898: Dau’s Official Blue-book for Toronto: Society Directory, Club Membership. Buffalo: Dau Publishing Co. (TRL)

1898: Foster’s Toronto Blue Book and Home Directory. Toronto: J.G. Foster, 1898 (CIHM)

1900: Society Blue Book: A Social Directory. Toronto: W. Tyrrell & Co., 1900 (TRL and CIHM)

1900: Foster’s Blue Book or Ladies’ Directory of Toronto, 1900, 2nd edition. Toronto: J.G. Foster & Co., 1900 (TRL)

1902: [Tyrrell’s] The Toronto and Hamilton Society Blue Book: A Social Directory. Toronto: W. Tyrrell & Co., 1902. A second online version here: http://eco.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.74510/1?r=0&s=1 (TRL)

1903: The Society Blue Book of Toronto, Hamilton and London, etc.: A Social Directory. Toronto: Wm. Tyrrell & Co., 1903-4.  (TRL)

1904: The Society Blue Book of Toronto, Hamilton and London, etc.: A Social Directory. Toronto: Wm. Tyrrell & Co., 1904-5.  (TRL)

1906: The Society Blue Book of Toronto, Hamilton and London: A Social Directory. Toronto: Dau Publishing Co., 1906. (TRL)

1908: The Society Blue Book of Toronto, Hamilton and London: A Social Directory. Toronto: Dau Publishing Co., 1908. (TRL)

1910: The Society Blue Book of Toronto, Hamilton and London: A Social Directory. Toronto: Dau Publishing Co., 1910.  (TRL)

1911: The Society Blue Book of Toronto and Hamilton: A Social Directory. [for 1912] New York City: Dau Publishing Co., 1911.  A second online version here: http://static.torontopubliclibrary.ca/da/pdfs/bluebook191100dauuoft.pdf (TRL)

1913: The Society Blue Book, Toronto: A Social Directory. New York: Dau’s Blue Books Inc., 1913  (TRL)

1920: Dau’s Official Blue-book for Toronto: Society Directory, Club Membership. Buffalo: Dau Publishing Co. (TRL)

1920: The Society Blue Book, Toronto: A Social Directory. New York: Dau’s Blue Books Inc., 1920  (TRL)

The Torontonian Society Blue Book and Club List. Toronto: William J. Covington.

My accidental encounter with Reverend John Saltkill Carroll

I feel a little guilty using John Carroll’s colourful middle name, because I know he didn’t like it. But it makes him easy to identify and there’s a good story behind it, so I’m confident that he’d understand. More about that later.

In November 2016, I became part owner of an oil painting of Rev. Carroll. Three friends and I acquired it at an online auction of the contents of the closed and soon-to-be-demolished Woodgreen United Church in the Leslieville neighbourhood of Toronto.

What first drew our attention to the auction were the war memorials listed for sale. They deserved better treatment. We combed through the rest of the 315 lots up for bid, and noticed the painting, described as “Picture A, 39 x 54”. The digital images included one of the name plaque which read “Rev. J. Carroll”.

Portrait from the Woodgreen United Church auction.

That name meant nothing to me. Time was short to determine whether the portrait, or the man it depicted, were historically or artistically significant. There were 48 hours left to the close of bidding.

A Google search for the combination of words “rev j carroll toronto” showed me an assortment of documents that connected Methodism, Toronto, and Leslieville. Taken together, they convinced me that the subject of the painting at Woodgreen United Church (originally Woodgreen Methodist Tabernacle) was Reverend John Saltkill Carroll.

There was a Dictionary of Canadian Biography entry for him! (It begins by stating that he never used his middle name.) But the DCB is a great place to start.

John’s father, Joseph Carroll, had served for the British in the American Revolutionary War. After his corps was disbanded in the West Indies, he settled in New Brunswick. “Settled” may not be the right word. His time in the army and at sea had made him restless and intemperate. Joseph married Molly Ridout, twenty years his junior. John and his twin brother were the last of twelve children. They were born in 1809 on an island in Passamaquoddy Bay, called Saltkill’s. John was named for the island’s Quaker owner, John Saltkill, and his twin for the island’s other resident Isaac Clarke.

Joseph and Molly were on their way to Upper Canada at the time of the twins’ birth, apparently with the promise of a 1,000-acre land grant. (This remains to be proven and impresses me as very optimistic.) The family settled on the Grand River near Brantford. They moved to Niagara while Joseph, a skilled harness maker, served during the War of 1812, and the family was forced to seek shelter several times. The regimental harness-maker’s shop was relocated to Hamilton, then Queenston, then finally to York in 1814. The rest of John Saltkill Carroll’s childhood was spent in York and surrounding townships.

Photo from the Topley Studio collection at Library and Archives Canada. Identified only as Rev. John Carroll. Dated 1877, when our Rev. Carroll was 68.

John’s education was limited, although apparently his family recognized his readiness to learn. He figured out reading by five, likely with the help of his Quaker mother and older brothers. From age six to about eleven, he attended schools when they were available. Teaching was not government funded or regulated, and schools typically didn’t last long.

John attended Methodist Sunday School as soon as it became available in York, about 1818. He joined the church in 1823 at the age of 15 and became a probationary preacher in 1827. He was ordained in 1833. From 1831, he was assigned to charges based in Perth, Matilda, Brockville, Bytown, Johnstown, London, Hamilton, Montreal, Belleville, Ottawa, Monaghan, Guelph, Puslinch, Grantham, St. Catharines, and Leslieville.

Reverend Carroll was tireless preacher and leader in the Ontario Methodist community for some 40 years—a tumultuous time in the church’s organization. But his most important contribution was in recording its history.

The mostly self-educated Carroll was a prolific writer. A great storyteller and collector of stories, he tended to write in “anecdotes”—chapter length pieces that may have been published as articles in Methodist newspapers before compilation as a book. The five-volume Case and His Cotemporaries is probably his most significant work.

Today, when Methodism is largely absent from Ontario, it is easy to forget how important, even dominant, it was in the settlement period. A familiar denomination to Loyalists, Methodist preachers worked hard to reach out to isolated communities. The history of Methodism reflects Ontario’s history. John Carroll spoke to and recorded the stories of those “saddlebag preachers” in several books.

Portrait of John Saltkill Carroll from his book, “My Boy Life”

But my favourite book, by far, is the wonderful My Boy Life: Presented in a Succession of True Stories. Covering his family’s early life in New Brunswick, the arduous journey to Upper Canada, life during the War of 1812, the detail is richest after the Carrolls’ arrival in York. Every Toronto historian should read it!

Lucky for us, My Boy Life, and virtually all John Carroll’s books are available through archive.org, making them easily and quite reliably searchable. A list follows this article.

In 1882, in the opening chapter of My Boy Life, John Saltkill Carroll writes about his name: “My [twin] brother did not live long enough to assert his middle name; and I threw Saltkill away, and kept to John alone, when I came to choose for myself.”

Reverend Carroll died on December 13, 1884, at his home near Woodgreen Methodist Church. He was survived by his widow Beulah Adams, daughter Mary Elizabeth, wife of William Hugh McClive, barrister, of St. Catharines, and son John Adams Carroll, MD, of Toronto.


The portrait of this remarkable historian is now with the City of Toronto Museums Services, while they decide whether to accept the painting as a donation.


BOOKS BY JOHN SALTKILL CARROLL

Case and His Cotemporaries, Or, The Canadian Itinerants’ Memorial: constituting a biographical history of Methodism in Canada, from its introduction into the province, till the death of the Rev. Wm. Case in 1855. Toronto: Wesleyan Printing Establishment, 1867–1877. Five volumes.
Vol 1: [https://archive.org/details/cihm_05316]
Vol 2: [https://archive.org/details/casehiscontempor02carr]
Vol 3: [https://archive.org/details/casehiscotempora03carruoft]
Vol 4: [https://archive.org/details/cihm_05319]
Vol 5: [https://archive.org/details/03134132.emory.edu]

“Father Corson,” Or, The Old Style Canadian Itinerant: Embracing the Life and Gospel Labours of the Rev. Robert Corson, Fifty-six years a minister in connection with the central Methodism of Upper Canada. Toronto: Methodist Book Room, 1879. [https://archive.org/details/fathercorsonorol00carr]

My Boy Life: Presented in a Succession of True Stories. Toronto: William Briggs, 1882. [https://archive.org/details/cihm_00485]

A needed exposition, or, The claims and allegations of the Canada episcopals calmly considered. Toronto: Methodist Book Room, 1877 [https://archive.org/details/cihm_24163]

The “Exposition” expounded, defended, and supplemented. Toronto: Methodist Book and Publishing House, 1881 [https://archive.org/details/expositionexpoun00carruoft]

The school of the prophets; or, Father McRorey’s class, and Squire Firstman’s kitchen fire : a fiction founded on facts. Toronto: Burrage and Magurn, 1876. [https://archive.org/details/cihm_00489]

The Stripling Preacher, or a sketch of the life and character, with the theological remains of the Rev. Alexander S. Byrne. Toronto: Anson Green, 1852 [https://archive.org/details/cihm_48062]

Thoughts and conclusions of a man of years concerning churches and church connection. Toronto: William Briggs, 1879. [https://archive.org/details/cihm_00491]

The Besiegers’ Prayer or a Christian Nation’s Appeal to the God of battles. Toronto: Christian Guardian Office, 1855. [sermon at the time of the Crimean War] [https://archive.org/details/besiegersprayero00carr]

Past and present; or, A description of persons and events connected with Canadian Methodism for the last forty years. Toronto: Alfred Dredge, 1860. [https://archive.org/details/adescription00carruoft]

Reasons for Wesleyan belief and practice, relative to water baptism: expressed in plain words and arranged in a summary manner. Peterborough: R. White, 1862. [https://archive.org/details/cihm_55460]

A Humble Overture for Methodist Unification in the Dominion of Canada. Toronto: Burrage and Magurn, 1876. [Bound with The school of the prophets. https://archive.org/details/cihm_00489]

Exploring the Lennox and Addington Archives

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to visit the new Lennox and Addington County Museum and Archives in Napanee. I’d been asked to do a presentation for the local historical society there, and well, who can resist an archives!

I have no ancestry in the area, and although my interests in Ontario history are broad, I can’t claim to have any current research projects from that neck of the woods.

Steps and ramp to a limestone archway in the courtyard wall.

Entrance and courtyard of the Lennox and Addington Museum and Archives, Napanee. ©Jane E MacNamara

I looked at the Archives website about a week before my trip so I could contact the staff ahead of time to let them know I was coming. (Always a good idea for a small archives.) I also asked if a tour was possible—since I’d planned to write this article.

The website noted above lists 14 finding aids for the collection. These are pdf scans of collection inventories done mainly in the late 1980s, but searchable. The inventories, in many cases, briefly describe fonds of a similar nature or creator.1 So the 14 finding aids represent a much larger number of fonds. For instance the “Municipal Records” finding aid encompasses school, jail, law enforcement, court, and assessment records, licenses, minutes, bylaws, voters lists, and public utilities—for all levels of local government—towns, townships, county, and the Midland District.2

As a sample fonds for this article, I looked at the “Private Papers” finding aid and selected the “Elsie Parks Papers”. The inventory for this fonds ran to just over two pages, and showed that the collection was divided into to six files. More about Elsie and her papers later.

Archivist stands between rows of compact shelving with large bound ledgers and archival boxes of various sizes.

Archivist Shelley Respondek showing the wide variety of material in the Lennox and Addington Archives records vault. ©Jane E MacNamara

The Lennox and Addington County Museum and Archives have been located in the old limestone county gaol since 1976. To celebrate the County’s sesquicentennial in 2014, a beautiful new archives wing was added, and the doors were opened last August.

Archivist Shelley Respondek was my guide. We started in the records vault where compact shelving units now allow proper storage of just about every shape and size of document and register book. Efforts are ongoing (and perhaps never-ending) to get new acquisitions housed and organized.

The reading room is bright and airy, with lots of table space and wifi. One glass wall separating the reading room from the corridor, provides a view of the museum’s limestone wall, currently with a colourful display of WWI posters. Out the windows opposite, trains go by at regular intervals.

A third long wall houses the extensive research library—local and family histories and lots of Loyalist material, as well as more than 2,000 unique family files.

These family files have been compiled over the years from researchers’ donations and correspondence with researchers. For example there are three files for “Parks” families including pedigree charts, typed biographies, and photocopies of original documents.

The fourth and final wall of the reading room houses the microfilm area—three readers/scanners and cabinets—and the archivist’s work area. There is also a card index to several local newspapers.

Tables and chairs with bookcases in the background.

Reading room at the Lennox and Addington Archives showing the local history books and file drawers for more than 2,000 family files. ©Jane E MacNamara

Back to the “Elsie Parks Papers”. The finding aid provides no biography of Elsie, but the fonds includes documents about her training and employment as a teacher in Napanee. There is much correspondence—with family members in California and St. Catharines, and a series of letters about “black Minorca chickens” with various parties in Ontario and eastern Canada.

Elsie’s files include letters, certificates, and ephemera from several generations of her family mostly from the Napanee area. There is a business journal from A.C. Parks of Hay Bay. Most material dates from the mid 19th century up to about 1930, the most recent being about 1960.

But I was really surprised and excited to find an original surveyor’s diary covering the dates April 1796 to May 1797. The diarist didn’t write his name in the book, so his identity or connection to Elsie Parks is unknown. He wasn’t working in Lennox and Addington, but in York and the Home District, east along Lake Ontario to Burlington Bay, and on the Grand River. He specifically mentions investigating locations for a bridge over the Credit River and working in the area around Castle Frank.

Handwritten book with archival weight holding it open.

The 1796-1797 surveyor’s diary from the Elsie Parks Papers at the Lennox and Addington Archives. The right-hand page records work at Castle Frank. ©Jane E MacNamara

Now, for those not immersed in Toronto history, Castle Frank was the summer home of Upper Canada’s first Lieutenant-Governor, John Graves Simcoe and his family. Named for their young son, Francis, and sketched by Elizabeth Simcoe, its exact location on the Don River has always been a contentious matter for historians.

Perhaps there is a clue in this precious surveyor’s diary, kept safe by Napanee schoolteacher Elsie Parks during her life, and now by the Lennox and Addington Archives.

 


NOTES

1. For an explanation of archives terminology, see The Archives of Ontario: How do I find what’s in it for me?

2. The Lennox and Addington Museum and Archives website has a good listing of holdings in its “Genealogy” section including links to other resources of interest. Some 57 fonds have also been listed on Archeion.

Genealogy “Summer Camp” 2015

I’m pleased to announce that after a one-year hiatus, “Summer Camp” will return this year, starting with a get-together on Sunday evening, June 7, and running until Friday, June 12.

Genealogy Summer Campers are on the move every day of this innovative week long program. Each day, participants will travel as a group on public transit to an archives or library—where you’ll be met with a tour or a tutorial on the records available at that institution. Some days there will be a second tutorial during the afternoon. The balance of the day will be devoted to your own hands-on research, with lots of help from local experts.

We’re very lucky to have a wonderful cluster of archives and libraries in Toronto that welcomes our Summer Camp groups. Participants will have the opportunity to visit the Toronto Reference Library, Canadiana Department of North York Central Library, Archives of Ontario, City of Toronto Archives, and a choice of the archives of Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto, Anglican Diocese of Toronto, Presbyterian Church in Canada, and the United Church of Canada’s Central Ontario Conferences.

Genealogy Summer Camp buttonSpace is limited. We keep the number of Campers small so we can provide individual help with your research.

You can help us plan and move forward by registering early. We already have several people signed up.

You’ll find more information about the program and accommodation, and the online registration form here.

Toronto Customs House Records

As mentioned in the previous post, the Archives of Ontario holds more than 2,600 collections or fonds of private documents—some amazing, fascinating things that I love to dip into from time to time.

The Toronto Customs House fonds (F 214) is one of these private fonds. The Archives Descriptive Database tells us that the Lt.-Gov. of Upper Canada authorized the building of customs houses in designated ports in 1803, although William Allan [1] had served as Collector of Customs at York from August of 1801 until 1828. The York (later Toronto) Customs House concerned itself only with shipments from the USA. European goods would have cleared customs at Quebec or Montreal.[2]

Worn hardback register books

The two registers that comprise the Toronto Customs House fonds F 214 at the Archives of Ontario

The Toronto Customs House fonds consists of two bound registers of manifests of goods arriving in Toronto by ship from April 17, 1836 to July 8, 1841. This covers, approximately, the period that the Collector’s job belonged to Thomas Carfrae, Jr.[3] Each record gives the name of the vessel, the date and wharf of arrival, the name of the importer, and a detailed list of what was being imported.

I’ve transcribed a portion of one particularly interesting manifest from June 1, 1836[4] that sheds light on the business activities of a Toronto merchant named Silas Burnham, and on the goods that were available for purchase in 1830s Toronto—somewhat more exotic then we might expect. The list (below) appears in the order in which it was originally written. Does the mention of some items, like raisins, several times on the list reflect the fact that the items were being fished out of the nooks and crannies in the hold where they had been stowed for the voyage?

Watercolour of a one-storey brick house

Artist Frederic Victor Poole’s impression of the Toronto Custom House, painted in 1912 from a drawing published in January 1889 in the Evening Telegram. (Toronto Reference Library, JRR 510)

The customs register book for 1836 began on April 17 (presumably when the lake was clear of ice) and continued until December 1. The Customs House at this time was a small one-storey building on the north side of Front Street east of Scott Street.[5] The register shows that virtually all goods were brought ashore at either Brown’s wharf or McDonnell’s/McDonald’s wharf. The vessel that brought Silas Burnham’s goods, the Robert Burns, appears to have come to Toronto only once that season, but Silas received about a dozen shipments from the USA on various ships, including a “thrashing machine” on August 12.

The importer, merchant Silas Burnham, may have started his retail life with a market stall,[6] but by 1836 he was operating a general store at 67 King Street East. At that time, King, Toronto’s principal commercial street, was numbered from east to west; 67 was on the south side between George and New (Jarvis) streets. He appears there in the 1833/4 and 1837 directories,[7] and in the assessment rolls[8] from 1834 to 1839. However, in the assessment rolls for 1840, the building is empty. Has Silas moved to a different Toronto location, or has he left the city? A thorough search of the 1840 and later assessment rolls should provide the answer.

Handwritten list, transcribed below

Detail of the list of goods shipped for Silas Burnham, 1 June 1836

We do know that he eventually left Toronto—and Upper Canada. In an intriguing letter written May 22, 1843, in Kingston, to his wife in Toronto, Samuel Peters Jarvis expresses surprise at a rumour that Silas Burnham has committed fraud and fled the country. Jarvis writes, “If the report should prove true it will cause quite a panic among the Good Citizens of Toronto.”[9] Not having consulted court records, I won’t hazard a guess about when or why Silas moved across the border. However, his estate file, proved in the Court of Probate on July 20, 1849, reveals that he died on May 7, 1848, in Centreville, Wayne County, Indiana. He left a son Erastus, aged 13, a daughter, Mary Louisa, aged 5. His widow Clarissa Jane Burnham returned to Upper Canada, and was living in Port Hope, shortly after Silas’ death.[10]

Should you consult the Toronto Customs House fonds? If your family lived in or near Toronto during 1836 to 1841, the registers will give you, at least, a glimpse of the activity at the harbour. Many individuals—not just merchants—received goods that are listed. On the same day that Silas Burnham’s shipment arrived, the Robert Burns also brought cargo for Messrs Rigney and Brent, Rev. D. McAuley, and three bales of hides for tanner Jesse Ketchum. We see William Lyon Mackenzie importing type and a printing press later that summer. [11] While the Toronto Customs House registers are not indexed, they are very legible, and a fascinating read.

June 1, 1836 / Importer: S Burnham / Wharf: McDonnel / Vessel: Robt Burns
3 boxes of ware
1 box medicine
1 box paper
3 bags of spice
4 tierces of rice[12]
4 casks of mittens[13]
29 kegs of tobacco
20 dry barrels
6 boxes of chocolate
4 dry kegs
18 1/2 boxes of raisins
6 boxes of pipes
3 boxes of ware
1 case
1 box of [goods]
2 boxes of bitters
1 basket of oil
1 rocket
20 drums of raisins
20 drums of figs
4 boxes of ware
4 bags of nuts
2 boxes of prunes
1 box cocoa
1 box capers
1 box syrup
2 small boxes
10 bales of goods
40 boxes of raisins
21 kegs of tobacco
1 box of goods
11 boxes of candy
2 boxes of pepper sauce
2 boxes ware
4 bags of nuts
16 boxes of scythe stones[14]

NOTES

[1] Two customs account books created by William Allan during his tenure survive in the William Allan fonds, S 123, Series 1, Vols 1 and 2, Baldwin Room, Toronto Reference Library. They cover the period 1815 to 1830.

[2] Armstrong, Frederick H. Handbook of Upper Canadian chronology, revised edition. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 1985. pp 217, 225.

[3] ibid. p 225.

[4] Register entry for S. Burnham, June 1, 1836, Register of Manifests, Toronto Customs House fonds, F 214, Box MU 2991, Archives of Ontario.

[5] Martyn, Lucy Booth. The face of early Toronto. Sutton West, ON, and Santa Barbara, CA: The Paget Press, 1982. p 31. The Customs House is also marked on the 1834 Alpheus Todd Engraved Plan of the City of Toronto.

[6] Silas Burnham appears in a list of vendors who rented market stalls in York in 1831 in Appendix to Journal of the House of Assembly of Upper Canada 1831. p 172 (available at http://eco.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.9_00942_7)

[7] York commercial directory, street guide and register, 1833-34. York, U.C.: Walton/Dalton.
City of Toronto and the Home District commercial directory for 1837. Toronto: Walton/ Dalton & Coates.

[8] City of Toronto assessment rolls are at the City of Toronto Archives, and available on microfilm at the Archives of Ontario and through FamilySearch.org.

[9] Letter from Samuel P. Jarvis (Kingston) to Mary Jarvis (Toronto), 22 May 1843, Samuel Peters Jarvis and William Dummer Powell fonds, F 31, item 362, microfilm MS 787, reel 2, Archives of Ontario.

[10] Estate file for Silas Burnham, merchant, Toronto, 20 July 1849, Court of Probate, RG 22-155, microfilm MS 638, reel 41, Archives of Ontario.

[11] Mackenzie received printing equipment on June 17, 26, and July 12, 1836. (Register of Manifests, Toronto Customs House fonds, F 214, Box MU 2991, Archives of Ontario)

[12] A tierce was a cask that held 42 US gallons of liquid or about 159 litres.

[13] I have found several instances of mittens and gloves shipped in casks. Here is one from a manifest of goods shipped to Boston on the Renown in 1776.

[14] More about scythe stones.

The Neglected Gooseberry

It is the middle of July, and in Ontario that means just about everything is ripe. Saturday morning at the market there were flats of perfect strawberries, early raspberries, glossy red, black and yellow cherries, translucent red currants, and tucked away on just a couple of farmer’s tables, a few pints of unassuming green gooseberries.

Gooseberries in pressed paper pint container.

Tiny green gooseberries at the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto, July 2014. Photo ©Jane E MacNamara

Unloved, or just forgotten? Certainly out of fashion.[1]

It wasn’t so for our ancestors. There are gooseberries native to Ontario. Catharine Parr Traill, who settled near Lakefield, mentions wild gooseberries in several of her books, and describes three varieties—wild smooth, thornberry or prickly, and small swamp gooseberry—in her 1885 Studies of Plant Life in Canada. In the 1857 Canadian Settler’s Guide (7th edition), she advises transplanting some wild varieties to a cool shady spot in the garden.

In his 1873, Toronto of Old: Collections and Recollections, Henry Scadding remembers dense thickets of “wild gooseberry bushes and wild black-currant bushes” in the lower Don Valley. In a Toronto horticultural exhibition described in the Globe in July 1849, Mr. Turner won first place for his gooseberries.[2]

Gooseberries were an essential part of a northern household garden. Like currants (a close relative), gooseberries are very high in natural pectin, the ingredient that thickens jam and jelly. They could be mixed with fruit like strawberries or rhubarb which won’t set on their own. They could also be the featured ingredient in gooseberry jam or a tangy relish to eat with meat.

But back to the meager offerings of gooseberries this weekend at the market. There were two varieties, both un-named as far as the growers could tell me. The bushes had been fending for themselves for as long as they could remember.

Pint basket of gooseberries beside a pint of currants.

Larger, bulbous green gooseberries and red currants at the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto in July 2014. Photo ©Jane E MacNamara

But that was certainly not the case in 1876, when the Ontario government sent displays of the province’s products to the “Centennial Exposition” in Philadelphia celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

One of the displays was the “Fruits of Ontario.” This was, apparently a massive exhibit, occupying 200 feet of table space.[3] Secretary of the Fruit Growers’ Association of Ontario D.W. Beadle wrote a fascinating report[4] about how the samples were gathered and the quantities involved—well worth a read if your ancestor was a fruit grower. Beadle’s closing words explain that the aim of the exhibit was to “dissipate a very prevalent impression that we dwell in a cold, frozen, most inhospitable region of snow and ice”. He felt that the effort had done more to “break down unfounded prejudices” then could have been done by “an army of Emigration Agents, or a whole circulating library of books of information on the climate and productions of Ontario.”

Part of this impressive 1876 exhibit, were samples of 25 varieties of gooseberries!

VARIETY GROWER(S)
American Seedling Wm. Saunders of London
Arnold’s Seedling Charles Arnold of Paris
Black Naples P.E. Buck of Ottawa, J. McMullen of Ottawa
Downing Allen Moyer of Indian Station, Charles Arnold of Paris, P.E. Buck of Ottawa, Wm. Saunders of London,
Early Red R. Kettlewell of London
Early Yellow John Arnold of Paris
English D. Arnott of Arva, H. Beltz of London
Hart’s Seedling Charles Arnold of Paris
Houghton’s Allen Moyer of Indian Station, P.E. Buck of Ottawa, Wm. Saunders of London, M. Kelly of London
Hybrid Wm. Saunders of London
Phoenix John Carnie of Paris
Ploughboy J. Lamb of London
Read’s Canada W.H. Read of Port Dalhousie
Read’s Gem W.H. Read of Port Dalhousie
Read’s Pear-shaped W.H. Read of Port Dalhousie
Read’s Purple W.H. Read of Port Dalhousie
Read’s Yellow W.H. Read of Port Dalhousie
Roaring Lion R. Kettlewell of London
Sulphur Yellow J. McMullen of Ottawa
Warrington R. Kettlewell of London, J. McMullen of Ottawa
White Smooth John Carnie of Paris, J. McMullen of Ottawa
Whitesmith R. Kettlewell of London, J. Lamb of London
Wild Prickly Wm. Saunders of London
Wild Smooth Wm. Saunders of London
Yellow Jacket Charles Arnold of Paris

Mr. Beadle noted that the summer of 1876 had been particularly hot and dry. This had damaged or diminished crops in some part of the province—accounting for the dominance of places like London on the gooseberry list.

So what happened to all this diversity of gooseberries[5] in Ontario? Why did their popularity wane? Was it a change in culinary styles? Did another fruit or product take their place?

Do some of these varieties survive on family farms? Does a descendant of grower R. Kettlewell of London still have some Roaring Lion bushes?


[1] Well maybe they’re not completely out of fashion. Martha Stewart grows gooseberries on her farm and you’ll find several recipes on her web site. Be wary that she’s not referring to “cape” gooseberries with a papery covering, which in Ontario we’d call ground cherries.

[2] The Globe, 21 July 1849, page 4.

[3] Report of the Commissioner of Agriculture (Chairman of the Advisory Board of Ontario,) on the Products, Manufacturers, etc., of Ontario, exhibited at the International Exhibition, Philadelphia, 1876. Sessional Papers No. 33. Legislative Assembly: Toronto, 1877. (The Google Book version starts on digital page 187.)

[4] Beadle’s report to the Commissioner of Agriculture starts on page 85.

[5] Charles Darwin wrote about the varieties of gooseberries developed in England by examining lists published in horticultural show catalogues from 1573. He credits the close to 300 varieties and increase in berry size to the existence of a network of “fanciers” from the late 1700s that held many annual gooseberry shows. Darwin himself grew some 54 varieties of gooseberry. The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, 2nd edition, Vol. 1. New York: D. Appleton, 1876. pages 376–378

Dear Diddles: Eliza Mathews writes to her friend Ann Smith

This is my third post about the David William Smith papers at the Toronto Reference Library. The first two posts, A Toronto farm, 1799–1800 and A tale of two Isaac Gilberts, drew from Smith’s service as Upper Canada’s first Surveyor General and his personal land ownership.

1764 letter from Eliza Mathews to Ann Smith

First page of a three-page letter from Eliza Mathews to her friend Ann Smith (mother of David William Smith), written in 1764 in Kilkenny, Ireland.

In addition to the documents created and received while in Upper Canada, there is considerable correspondence received by Smith while he was on leave in England, and after 1802 when he returned there for good.

The David William Smith papers also include some selected correspondence of his father John Smith, Commander of the 5th of Foot at Detroit and Niagara, and letters to D.W. Smith’s mother, the former Ann Waylen.

It is one of these letters to Mrs. Ann Smith from her friend Eliza Mathews that caught my eye and then my imagination. It was written in September 1764, just three weeks after the birth of her son David in Wiltshire, England. Eliza, having recently moved to Kilkenny, Ireland, is also expecting a baby very soon and is missing her companion. Eliza writes, as she says, “just as I used to talk to you”. It is honest, enlightening, and endearing. I hope you enjoy the transcription that follows.

You can find the original letter in the Toronto Reference Library’s Marilyn and Charles Baillie Special Collections Centre, Fonds S126, Series A10, folder 4, pages 251–254.

Kilkenny September the 24th 1764

I am rejoiced to hear of my D’r[1] Diddles recovery, and the Diddles Diddle being well and hearty; tell [Tacky] I congratulate him upon his Papa-ship, and wish sincerely I could see you both to tell you what pleasure the news gave me when I heard it. You may imagine that a few month’s absense made me indifferent about you, but indeed you mistake, my regard is not less than at the time of our greatest intimacy. Fy! I abhor the suspicion nor do I think my D’r Smith w’d harbor it of me, therefore shall say no more of it.

Achs and pains, such as you have had yourself, prevented my writing as expeditiously as I ought to you, and even this you may look upon as a farewell, for [so]me time, for I don’t know how soon I may be confined; [d]ont you pity me, is it not dreadful; what but the highest love for your husband can make it [toler]able, nor nothing in my opinion but a return of love from him, can compensate for what we suffer; I know the generality of them only laugh at this, but that is miserable comfort to us, who experience the hardship of having children.

Good God how I pity some women, who I know heartily hate their husbands, and I am certain are as sincerely despised by them, and yet breed as fast as rabbits, what lives of misery they have, you can’t but have known some such couples—but I fear I am going on too rashly in declaring my sentiments, I forgot you have an unmarried sister with you who may perhaps come to the knowledge of this letter, and we sh’d be cautious not to say anything that would be likely to be a detriments to the matrimonial scheme; if she sh’d happen to see this, tell I spoke in general terms, for that I can assure her there are some particular people in the world, who never knew what happiness was, till the knot was tyed. I myself am one instance of it, among the many others to be found in the world.

My D’r Sam and I often wish you w’d take it into your head to come down and see our new house; there is a bed and room at your service as much, or more, than ever Mrs Robinsons was, and another for your Sister, perhaps not quite so good, but such a one as I believe she w’d dispense with for the sake of being in the house with you; I dont ask you, that there are the least public amusements going forward here for you, for in your life you never knew a place more barren of entertainment in that way; its all confined to domestic chearfulness and peace, if you have it not at home you have no other resource to fly to; do D’r Smith come down and see how we live, we can give you a Quadrille, a good fire, and a hearty welcome, whenever you please to accept it, and the sooner the more agreeable to us.

I have scarce looked at my paper since I began, so that I write just as I used to talk to you, that was with very little consideration and less coherency, so I fear you’ll find this letter, all I shall answer for it is, that it has truth to recommend it from first to last for that Diddle is my D’r Diddle and that I am hers and Mr Smiths sincere Friend is what I hope they will both believe. I am likewise [____] in the request, and assure yourself that I am your affectionate

Eliza Mathews

Compliments to your Sister

Willy is [purely] and often drinks your health remember me to the gentleman of Reg’t [D___] for me at the Parade[2]


[1] Eliza used abbreviations lavishly. This one is “dear”.

[2] Spelling and punctuation are Eliza’s. I’ve broken her letter into paragraphs for ease of reading.

A Toronto farm, 1799-1800

Over the last six months or so, I’ve been digging into the papers of the Honourable David William Smith, Upper Canada’s first Surveyor General, part of the amazing manuscript holdings of the Toronto Reference Library.[1] I’ve dipped into this intriguing collection several times before, but this time I’ve systematically opened every Hollinger box and file folder to discover the treasures they hold. I’ll be speaking about it at the Ontario Genealogical Society Conference on Sunday, May 4.

I confess that I love looking at manuscripts. David William Smith was an interesting (and blessedly organized) fellow, but the value of his collection of papers goes way beyond what he was all about. As with most manuscript collections, we learn just as much about the people and society around the central figure—the “little” people and the mundane events that don’t make the pages of history books.

Marilyn and Charles Baillie Special Collections Centre at the Toronto Reference Library

Marilyn and Charles Baillie Special Collections Centre at the Toronto Reference Library (photo by Jane E. MacNamara)

The document[2] below (front and back) is an account of expenditures made by neighbour and friend John McGill to maintain Smith’s home and farm in the Town of York. Smith’s home, Maryville, was located at the corner of today’s King Street and Ontario Street, and the farm was Park Lot 5—a narrow 100-acre lot from Sherbourne Street to George Street between Queen Street and Bloor Street. (Smith, at the time held many other parcels of land, but it makes sense to me that at this time agriculture would be focused on these two.)

McGill was paying the bills because Smith was on leave in England. He departed in late July 1799—after leaving precise instructions for his assistants in the Surveyor General’s Office, instructions which are also preserved in his papers.[3]

We can see from the document, that Smith had sheep to be shorn, and hogs and poultry to be fed. He grew potatoes and turnips (the latter likely as livestock feed), and a portion of the hay required to feed his animals over the winter.

DW Smith farm account

DW Smith farm account, S126, box 3, folder B4, pages 59 and 60, Toronto Reference Library

Smith had help. I don’t think he was ever the actual “man behind the plough”. He seems to have maintained a Richard Hide as manager, supplying him with barrels of flour and salt pork. The account notes that Hide was sick in August 1799 and John Connelly stepped in to assist.

The other expenditures are for casual and skilled labour, cartage and for materials—like stone needed for a new well. They tell us about Smith’s home and farm, but they also give us solid if brief information about the workers and suppliers—specifics for an era when York was a scant six years old, and information is very scarce.

Names listed in account for David William Smith’s farm, 1799–1800
Tivy, Thomas labour 1799 July
Connelly, John labour 1799 July, August
Darby, William digging well 1799 August
Bell, Alexander carpentry 1799 July, August, September
Young, Robert stone 1799 August
Lamb, Henry cartage of stone 1799 August
Turner labour 1799 August
_____, Dick clear turnip ground 1799 August
Badger, Gideon cartage of stone for well 1799 September
Phelps, Joseph cartage of hay 1799 September
Gilbert, W. Pitt stone 1799 September
Thomas, James hay 1799 September
Jackson, Henry hay 1799 September
Hamilton, Robert 55 barrels of lime 1799 September
Hunter, William blacksmith’s work 1799 October
Hide, Richard pork and flour for his use 1799 October, 1800 May
McBride, John Indian corn for hogs and poultry 1799 December
Buman, E barrel of flour 1800 May
Heron, Samuel seed potatoes 1800 June
Willies, William shearing sheep 1800 June
Parker mowing 1800 July
Edgell, John hauling and stacking hay 1800 August

[1] The manuscript collections can be viewed in the new Marilyn and Charles Baillie Special Collections Centre, on the Toronto Reference Library’s fifth floor.

[2] From the David William Smith papers S126, box 3, folder B4, pages 59–60, Toronto Reference Library

[3] David William Smith papers S126, box 4, folder B7-1, pages 1–28, Toronto Reference Library

A Stab at Chancery Court Records

In contrast to the last couple of posts, where I’ve attempted to lead you step by step through a set of records, this time I’m writing about records that mystify me. I can’t give you a straightforward route into them, because I haven’t found one. I have used chancery court records, and I’ve been lucky to find printed extracts of the few cases I’ve looked for—because those cases set precedents and the legal community needed to know about them. But there is so much more!

Ontario’s Court of Chancery was formed in 1837 and continued until it was merged into the Supreme Court of Judicature in 1881. It settled disputes about things like real estate, trusts, inheritance, dower, alimony, the care of infants (ie: everyone under 21) and mentally incompetent individuals, and fraud, particularly connected with real estate transactions or bankruptcy. If you think about that list of subjects, you can see the potential for family history information—rich little deposits of sworn, notarized, and largely undiscovered genealogy gold.

The records of the Court of Chancery are at the Archives of Ontario. There is one group of records that are identified by the surnames of the parties involved in the Archives Descriptive Database. That is RG 22-409 Equity Civil Suits Case Files. Knowing that it might be worth seeking out a still very generic “Smith v Jones” is the tricky part.

Most files contain at least two items, a detailed “Bill of Complaint” from the plaintiff and an “Answer” from the defendant. There may also be supporting affidavits and other documentation.

Equity civil suits case file, Newburn vs Newburn, RG-22-409, file 179/1874, Archives of Ontario

Equity civil suits case file, Newburn vs Newburn, RG-22-409, file 179/1874, Archives of Ontario

For example, file 179/1874 Newburn v Newburn, tells of a son John who emigrated from Ireland to Canada, and lost touch with his family for many years. He eventually visits his two sisters, also in Canada, and decides to visit his father John back in Castlefield, Co. Sligo. From there the father’s version of the story is at odds with the son’s, but the property in Ireland was transferred to the son and sold. Son, father, and father’s new wife all sailed for Canada. Whether the proceeds of the sale belonged to the father or the son was the question, but the file provides names, married names, and locations of all parties in Canada, a timeline for the family’s emigration, and a location in Ireland. Conveniently, they even argued about the numbers of pigs and cows.

Affidavit by Dr. Uzziel Ogden

Affidavit by Dr. Uzziel Ogden, Equity civil suit case file, Ince vs King, RG 22-409, file 188/1874, Archives of Ontario

File 188/1874 Ince v King, is a complaint by Thomas Henry Ince, a barrister who lived on Roxbrough Street in Rosedale. Ince claimed that noxious smells and water pollution from Joseph King’s nearby glue factory were making it impossible for his family to enjoy their home. Ince produced affidavits from a number of doctors and local officials, and King countered with just as many from neighbours and employees, saying that the factory didn’t make them sick. The detailed descriptions of their homes in relation to the factory are a unique resource. Turns out a number of open cesspools were the more likely cause of the stench.

Sketch map of Rosedale

Sketch map of Rosedale showing King’s factory on the west side of Yonge Street (100 yards from Thomas Ince’s home), cesspools to the east, and Yorkville Creek to the south. Equity civil suit case file, Ince vs King, RG 22-409, file 188/1874, Archives of Ontario

Bill of complaint, Ford vs Beasley

Bill of complaint, Equity civil suit case file, Ford vs Beasley, RG 22-409, file 208/1874, Archives of Ontario

File 208/1874 Ford v Beasley is an action by Keziah Eliza Ford, a widow from Hamilton, against family members Thomas and Sophia Beasley and George Burton. She makes a claim for a portion of a trust set up by her late brother Richard to care for his wife and daughters. Only one daughter, Agnes, survives and she is a “lunatic”. The file states the family connections, dates of death for Richard and his family, and details Agnes’ condition.

There are some 4100 case files in this series. They are not microfilmed and are stored offsite, so you will need to order them a day or two in advance of your visit to the Archives of Ontario.

Archives of Ontario box 109503

Archives of Ontario box 109503

The entry for RG 22-409 in the Archives Descriptive Database links to an online list of records, but they must be browsed page by page. Instead of using the list, I recommend searching for your surnames of interest in the Archives Descriptive Database at the “Advanced Search” level. Select “Files and Items” and narrow the results by entering RG 22-409 in the Archival Reference Code field.

It is a bit of a stab in the dark—but it could be very worthwhile.

To give you a taste of the genealogical treasures to be found, I’ve extracted the main names and summarized the “matters” for one box of files in the table below—some 68 cases of the 4100 in the series.

RG 22-409 Equity Civil Suits Case Files: Box 109503 (© Jane E. MacNamara)

File/ Year Complainant/plaintiff Defendant Matter
177/1874 James Stratton Barwick, Jane Crawford Barwick, Frederick Drew Barwick, Agnes Margaret Cameron (née Barwick) Hugh C. Barwick Failure to distribute the proceeds of the sale of a lot in Blanford Township
178/1874 Andrew Norton Buell Isabella Liscombe, executor of the estate of Margaret Watson (deceased) Mortgage debt on several lots in the Town of Whitby
179/1874 John Newburn the elder John Newburn the younger Dispute over the proceeds of the sale of John the elder’s property in Castlefield, County Sligo, Ireland, before his emigration to Canada
180/1874 Canada Permanent Building and Savings Society John Leech and heirs of James Leech: Mary Ann (widow, now married to William Thompson), infants William, James, Henry, Thomas, David, Emma, and Mary Ann Mortgage debt on property in Manvers Township
181/1874 Alexander Leith William Bell and his wife Margaret Mortgage debt on property in Lindsay
182/1874 John Bain, barrister of Toronto George Mearns and the Hon. John Simpson Concerns the will of James Mearns of Darlington Twp, who died in 1845.
183/1874 Michael Scanlan, tinsmith of Toronto Elizabeth Coxwell, spinster of Toronto Mortgage debt on property on Alice Street, Toronto
184/1874 Charles W. Lount of Bracebridge Clarkson Jones Failure to provide accounts for the sale of properties in Flos, Innisfil, Medonte, Mono, Mulmer, Tay, Tiny, Nottawasaga, and Oro townships
185/1874 Royal Canadian Bank William Martin of Cartwright Twp., and his wife Mary Mortgage debt on property in Cartwright Twp.
186/1874 Royal Canadian Bank Mary Martin of Cartwright Twp Mortgage dept on property in Cartwright Twp.
187/1874 Benjamin Halleck of Meaford James Beattie Powell of Elizabethtown, his wife Anna, their son Robert Beattie Powell of New York City, and Edward C.K. Garvey Fraudulent deal to exchange Halleck’s land in Elizabethtown for Garvey’s land in the United States (which never materialized)
188/1874(two fat files) Thomas Henry Ince of Yorkville Joseph King of Yorkville Noxious smells and water pollution from King’s glue factory (many affidavits from neighbours, physicians, local officials)
188b/1874 Charles Stanhope Watson and Samuel Waddell John James Mason assignee of Edward and George Magill of Hamilton Seeking the court’s opinion about the distribution of funds from bankrupt hardware merchants
189/1874 Frederick E. Seymore aka E.F. Seymore Robert Brown Mortgage debt on property in Tilsonburg
190/1874 Charles Baillie of Montreal Abraham Blazey Dispute over ownership of property in Percy Twp involved in the bankruptcy of the hardware store of Benjamin Franklin Lewis and Jasper Terwilligar in Warkworth
191/1874 Robert K. Chisholm of Oakville Kate T. Sumner and husband William C. Sumner Mortgage debt on property in Owen Sound
192/1874 Thomas Cowdry of Toronto, physician John Bethune McKinnon and George Stevenson Dispute over the sale and cutting of timber on property in Moore Twp
193/1874 Hannah Roe Woodward, widow of Cholmley Woodward, of Oro Twp. William Hueston of Howick Twp. and his wife Mary Mortgage debt on property in Howick Twp.
194/1874 Annie Bowes, widow, of Toronto Arthur Todd of Yorkville Mortgage debt on property in Yorkville
195/1874 James Breakenridge McLean of Elizabethtown, farmer Wellington Shepherd McLean (his son) Dispute over assignment of a mortgage on land in Elizabethtown purchased from William Franklin Coleman
196/1874 Josiah Barker Rogers of Aurora Ann Ransom Mortgage debt on property in the Village of Aurora
197/1874 Michael Daintry Cruso of Cobourg Thomas Armstrong Winton Gordon of Fergus and his wife Elspeth Georgina Gordon Mortgage debt on two properties in Fergus
198/1874 Donald Alexander McArthur of the Village of Alexandria, merchant Albert L Catlin, William R Hibbard, Alexander Cameron, and the Montreal and City of Ottawa Junction Railway Company Recovery of money advanced to pay workers while the railway line was built near Alexandria
199/1874 Mary Ann Sullivan, widow of Brighton Twp., and infants  John, James, Mary Ellen, Daniel, Michael, Elizabeth Ann, and Patrick Sullivan Levi Fairbanks the younger of Whitby, auctioneer Agreement to purchase of property in Brighton Twp.
200/1874 Charles Alexander Switzer, bookkeeper of Toronto Thomas Simpson Completion of an agreement to purchase property on Vanauley St., Toronto
201/1874 John Edward Rose of Toronto Thomas Mulholland, William Richards, Harriet Richards, Susannah Carter, George Washington Carter, Sarah Richards, James Burkett Mortgage debt on a property on Vaughan Rd. in York Twp., purchased by the Connexional Society of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Canada
202/1874 David Galbraith, merchant, of Toronto Frederick Schwarz, tobacco manufacturer, Hamilton Claim on Hugh Wallace’s portion from the proceeds of the recent dissolution of the partnership of Schwarz & Wallace
203/1874 Albert Boltwood Wright and John Charles Fitch, merchants of Toronto Peter Bordean or Bordeau of Haldimand County and his wife Nancy Bordean Allegation that Bordean transferred land in Village of Canfield to his wife to protect it from a judgment in the Court of Common Pleas
204/1874 William Chaplin of St. Catharines, and Edward Jones of Toronto and Welland Vale Manufacturing Company William Henry Rodden and his son William Albert Rodden Claim that the patent for a “balloon tine” hay fork invented by Rodden was purchased from the trustees in bankruptcy
205/1874 Edward Blong of Toronto James McMullen Mortgage debt on property in Arthur Twp.
206/1874 Thomas Douglas Ledyard of Toronto William Blackwood of Montreal, and Alfred Francis Wright of Toronto Sale of land in Prince Arthurs Landing, Thunder Bay District
207/1874 William Purdy, contractor, of Toronto John Harvey Seeking his share of profits in dissolved partnership for work on the Provincial Lunatic Asylum and the American Hotel
208/1874 Keziah Eliza Ford, widow, of Hamilton Thomas Beasley, Sophia Beasley, George William Burton Claim on the residue of a trust set up by her brother Richard George Beasley of Hamilton, which provided for his wife and daughters, now all dead. The last surviving daughter, Agnes, had been a lunatic and the file included details of her condition.
209/1874 William T Munro of Toronto Norman and Donald McInnis Request that a bankruptcy discharge for a dry goods merchant in Walkerton be set aside because a piece of property in West Hawkesbury Twp. was transferred to the owner’s brother keep it off the list of assets
210/1874 Clarkson Jones and Hon. Adam Crooks Neil Campbell of Stayner, baker Mortgage debt on a property in the Village of Stayner
210a/1874210b/1874(two files) Thomas Burke of Niagara and Donald Milloy Donald Milloy of Toronto, executor of the will of Nicol Milloy Debt collection case transferred from the Court of Common Pleas after the death of original defendant Nicol Milloy
211/1874 William Griffith of Toronto, merchant James Watson Henderson Mortgage debt on a property in Artemesia Twp.
212/1874 Elizabeth Beatty of Toronto, married woman Luke Beatty her husband Requesting alimony and child support. Includes a list of his considerable assets
213/ 1874 Joab Scales of Toronto Thomas Alison Sale of land on Wellington Street, Toronto
214/1874 Janet Douglas, widow of Toronto Twp., William J. Montgomery and Jessie Montgomery of Etobicoke Matthew Campbell Mortgage debt on a property in Harwick Twp.
215/1874 Peter Raymer of Markham Twp. Mary Raymer, Henry and Esther Robson, George and Matilda Eckardt, Samuel and Hannah Shank, Colin D. and Elizabeth Reesor, Andrew and Susan Reesor, Christina Raymer (widow of John Noble Raymer), her children Annie Raymer, Albert Reesor Raymer, Ida H. Raymer, Fanny A. Ramer, E. Naomi Raymer, Franklin H. Raymer, and Ira S. Raymer Division of the property of the late Martin Raymer in Nottawasaga Twp. (100 acres). The plaintiff and defendants are all entitled to a share. The plaintiff wants the land sold and the proceeds divided.
216/1874 James Park of Toronto, merchant, and Alexander Shields of Malton, executors of James Shields John Kerr, assignee of insolvent Robert Fowles Mortgage debt on property at Queen and Portland in Toronto
217/1874 John Conn of Bracebridge Warring Kennedy and Thomas McMurray Collection of the purchase price of land sold to McMurray which he has transferred to Kennedy
218/1874 Dr. Alexander Hamilton of Barrie, and Rev. Abraham James Broughall of Toronto, and James Beaty of Toronto Henry William Cuff Mortgage debt on property on Jarvis St., and a leasehold water lot, both in Toronto
219/1874 John Gordon of Goderich Twp. Donald Fraser and Donald Bruce the younger Dispute over timber rights and subletting of leased land in Goderich Twp.
220/1874 Managers of the Ministers Widows and Orphans Fund of the Synod of the Presbyterian Church of Canada John Wurtle Marston, David Buchan, John O’Brian, Peter O’Brian, trustees of the Presbyterian Congregation of L’Orignal Mortgage debt on the church property in L’Orignal
221/1874 Alexander Manning of Toronto Cyrus Johnston, William F. Johnston, Walter Sanderson, David Preston, Margaret Jessie Dupont, Charles L. Dupont, Sarah Johnston, Mary Agnes Johnston, Collins H. Johnston, Melinda Johnston, Talitha C. Johnston, George W. Johnston (the last six infants under 21) Mortgage debt on Campment d’Ors Island, near St. Joseph Island (1,260 acres). Island was granted to James Walker in 1861. Mortgage was originally held by Lawrence Heyden.
222/1874 Nicol Kingsmill of Toronto Niven Agnew and his sister-in-law Catherine Agnew Removal of a “fraudulent” mortgage held by Catherine Agnew on Niven Agnew’s property  in Village of Delaware, Caradoc Twp., so a lien can be placed on the property
223/1874 Margaret Ramsay Munro widow of Galt, Mary Richie Logie widow of Hamilton, Susan Leaming Hamilton widow of Galt William Lynn Smart, Eleanor Herbert Mary Charlotte Smart, John Alder Newton Smart, William Catherinus Gregory Smart (the last three infants under 21) Division of property in Hamilton bequeathed in the will of Mary Crooks (mother of the plaintiffs). Defendants are widower and children of another daughter of Mary Crooks.
224/1874 William Barclay McMurrich of Toronto Thomas Beatty, hotel keeper of York Twp. Mortgage debt on a 13-acre property in York Twp. (mortgage was part of a trust for Eliza Ann Helliwell, held by Thomas and George Taylor and William Mills Morse)
225/1874 John C. Secord of Niagara Twp. John Lees Alma Dispute over payment of mortgage principal for property in Niagara Twp. to Alma and whether he was mentally capable of discharging the mortgage.
226/1874 Alexander Smith of Toronto, labourer Mary Carruthers and John Carruthers, Horace Thorne, James J. Foy Recovery of debt of deceased William Carruthers from sale of property on Oak St. in Toronto.
227/1874 Thomas Monkhouse of Pickering, merchant Walter Forsyth of Whitchurch Twp Mortgage debt on property in Whitchurch Twp., assigned by Emma Forsyth of Uxbridge
228/1874 Robert W. Johnstone of the Village of Prince Albert, Reach Twp., gentleman Mary M. Huckins and husband John M. Huckins, bookkeeper of Port Perry Mortgage debt on property in Port Perry
229/1874 John Manly of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and Allan McQuarrie of Sault St Marie, Michigan, explorer Thomas Ryan, Scott and Thomas Ryan the younger Recovery of property purchased in the name of Thomas Ryan in McDonald Twp, Algoma District in trust for the defendants
230/1874 Trust and Loan Company of Canada Adam Lloyd of Rawdon Twp., gentleman Mortgage debt on a property in Rawdon Twp.
231/1874 James B. Boustead of Toronto Margaret Brown of Toronto, administratrix of the estate of her husband Charles Brown of Saint John, New Brunswick Seeking Charles W. Brown’s portion of his father’s estate as part of the bankruptcy of C.W.’s failed wine and spirit merchant business
232/1874 John Strathy of Toronto Janet Wilson (widow of Joseph Wison), William George McLean Wilson, Thomas Gallo Wilson, Janet Elizabeth Wilson, Joseph Silverthorn Wilson (the last 4 are infants under 21) Mortgage debt on property on Vanauley St., Toronto
233/1874 Leo Noecker, Jacob L, Eidt, Adam Johnston William Murray, miller, of the Village of Mildmay, Bruce County Dispute of Murray’s right to raise his dam beyond height the 12-foot limit on title
234/1874 Elizabeth McDermott, wife of John McDermott of Town of Mara Peter John O’Connor, John McDermott, Bridget O’Connor, Mary Ann O’Connor, Margaret O’Connor (last 3 are infants under 21) Dispute over the estate of Elizabeth’s father John O’Connor of Medonte Twp. The defendants are her siblings.
235/1874 Clarence W. Moberly of Toronto, civil engineer Edward King Dodds and Ernest Peel Recovery of debt owed to building contractor Richard Dinnis (and assigned to Moberly) for work done at Carleton Park Race Course
236/1874 George Brewster of Orangeville, and other creditors David Ellis and his wife Sarah Ann Ellis Claiming property in Orangeville, fraudulently transferred to Sarah Ann, when David Ellis absconded to the United States.
237/1874 William H. Howland of Toronto, merchant Archibald Currie Mortgage debt on property in Sunnidale Twp.
238/1874 John Brown, farmer, and William Coe, gentleman, both of Madoc Twp. John Beck of Buffalo, NY, mining captain and John Maule Machar of Kingston, barrister Removal of a “cloud” on the title of a property in Marmora Twp. caused by an agreement to sell subject to mineral rights
239/1874 James Moran of Toronto, cabman Margaret Stock of Toronto Dispute over the “pestilential waters and fluids” from Margaret’s cow shed that flow into Moran’s cellar. They lived side by side on Mutual St. in Toronto.
240/1874 Northern Extension Railways Company George Robinson, North Orillia Twp. Dispute over sale of land for the construction of railway station at Severn River
241/1874 Sarah Harper, wife of defendant.
Plus separate suit by Jane Harper of King Twp., widow
William Harper Recovery of alimony due to Sarah, and tells of her abuse. Jane Harper’s suit is for mortgage debt on property in King Twp.
242/1874 Margaret McMurray of Edwardsburgh Twp., widow of John James McMurray (son of the plaintiff) Dispute over the discharge of a mortgage on property sold to James by his late father John in Edwardsburgh and South Gower Twps., and Margaret’s dower rights to the land
243/1874 Erie and Niagara Railway Company Great Western Railway Company Dispute over the use of the Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge, and a station in the Village of Clifton. Includes affidavits of David H. Thomas (yard master, New York), Henry Edward Osgood (passenger agent, Detroit), Andrew H. Trew  (Tonawanda, civil engineer), James Angus (chief engineer, St. Thomas), William Henry Perry (Buffalo), William Alexander Thomson (Niagara Twp., director), William Moss Kasson (Buffalo, land valuator), Louis Dedrich Rucker (Grosse Isle, Michigan, railway manager), Charles William Winslow (accountant, St. Thomas), Thomas Wilson

© Jane E. MacNamara

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.