In the year 1861 a
meeting was- convened at the Education Office, Toronto, with the view of
establishing an Historical Society for Upper Canada. The writer, as an
Upper Canadian by birth, and deeply interested in his country with
respect to the past as well as the future, was present. The result of
that meeting was the appointment of a Committee to frame a Constitution
and By-Laws, and take the necessary steps to organize the proposed
Society, and to report three weeks thereafter.
The Committee consisted of the Hon. Mr. Merritt, Bev. Hr. Hyerson, Col.
Jarvis, Mr. De Grassi, Mr. Memtt, J. J. Hodgins, Dr. Canniff and Mr.
Coventry. For reasons unknown to the writer, this Committee never
even'met. The following year the writer received a printed circular
respecting an “Historical Society of Upper Canada” which had been
established at St. Catharines, of which Col. John Clarke, of Port
Balhousie, was President; Hon. Wm. H. Merritt, Vice-President, and
George Coventry, of Cobourg, Secretary.
Chief Justice Sir John Beverley Robinson, Bart.
Colonel Jarvis, Toronto,
Doctor Canniff, Toronto
Henry Eccles, Esq., Q.C.,
William H. Kittson, Esq., Hamilton
Henry Ruttan, Esq., Cobourg
The Venerable Lord Bishop of Toronto Alfio De Grassi, Esq., Toronto
J. P. Merritt, St. Catharines
Thomas C. Keefer, Esq., Yorkville
Hon. George S. Boulton, Cobourg
David, Burn, Esq., Cobourg
At the request of this Society the writer undertook to prepare a Paper
upon the Settlement of the Bay Quinte. Having been induced to take up
his abode for a time at Belleville, near which he was born, the writer
availed himself of every opportunity he could create while engaged in
his professional duties, during a period of five years, to collect facts
pertaining to the subject. After some months of labor, he was advised by
friends, in whose judgment he had confidence, to write a History of the
Bay Quinte, for publication.
Acting upon this advice, he continued, with increased energy, to collect
and elaborate material. In carrying out this object, he not only visited
different sections of the country and many individuals, but consulted
the libraries at Toronto and Ottawa, as well as availed himself of the
private libraries of kind friends, especially Canniff Haight, Esq., of
Picton. As the writer proceeded in his work, he found the subject
assuming more extended proportions than he had anticipated. He found
that, to write an account of the Settlement of the Bay Quinte, was to
pen a history of the settlement of the Province. Finally, he has been
induced to designate the work “A History of the Settlement of Upper
The labor, time and thought which has been given to the subject need not
to be dwelt upon. Every effort has been made, consistent with
professional duties, upon which the writer’s family is dependent, to
sift a mass of promiscuous material which has come under investigation,
so that grains of truth alone might fill the measure which this volume
Various sources of information have been duly indicated in the text; but
there are a large number of individuals, from whom information has been
obtained, whose names could not be recalled.
This work has been one of love as well as labor; yet time and again the
writer would have relinquished it had it not been for the words of
encouragement, volunteered by his friends.
The writer has explained the cause of his writing this volume. He now
presents it to the reader—to Canadians—to the world. He loves his
country so well, that he regrets an abler pen had not undertaken the
task, that justice might be more fully done to the worthy.
Fault may be found because of repeated and earnest protests against the
attitude assumed by the United States : the comments made in respect to
their history: the contrast drawn upon the subject of Liberty and
Freedom. The writer offers no excuse, lie lias endeavored to adhere to
truth. It is true these pages have been written during a period of great
irritation to Canadians, from the hostile and aggressive spirit which
the United States have displayed towards us; but a record has been made
which, it is trusted, will stand the test of the closest examination.
As to the work, apart from its historical character, no remark is
offered, except that the writer is perfectly conscious of errors and
imperfections. Time has not been allowed to polish; and while the pages
have been going through the press, other necessary duties have prevented
that close and undivided attention which the work demanded. But
subscribers to the volume were urgent in their requests to have the work
without further delay. The reader is referred to a page of Errata.
A concluding chapter it has been found necessary to omit, in consequence
of the size already attained. In this it was intended to discuss the
future prospects of the Dominion, The writer has unbounded faith in the
Confederation scheme. Before this scheme was initiated, the writer, in a
lecture delivered to. a Toronto audience, uttered these words. Pointing
out the elements which constitute the fabric of a great nation, he
remarked that he'd loved to contemplate the future, when all the British
Provinces would be consolidated into a grand whole; when, from the
summit of the Rocky Mountains, would be seen—to the East along the
magnificent lakes and river to the Atlantic, and down the western slopes
to the Pacific—the ceaseless industry of the Canadian beaver, and the
evergreen Maple Leaf overshadowing the peaceful homes of Canada.” The
prospects now are far brighter than when those words were spoken; and
notwithstanding the obstacles—an unpatriotic company of Englishmen, the
unscrupulous designs of covetous Americans, and the apathy of the
British Government—the belief is' broad and strong that the dream of the
future will be realized; There is life in the tree whose seed was
planted eighty years ago, and as it has in the past continued to grow,
so it will in the future.
In concluding these prefatory remarks, we desire to tender our thanks to
ail who have assisted us directly or indirectly, by supplying
information, and by encouraging words. Particularly we thank those
gentlemen who gave their names as subscribers, some of them voluntarily,
years ago, before the work was fairly commenced ; also the Hon. Lewis
Wallbridge, for procuring for us, when Speaker, copies of manuscript in
the Parliamentary Library, at Ottawa.
Finally, we express our obligations to the Publishers and Printers.
Toronto, 27th March, 1869.
History of the Settlement of Upper
Canada here (pdf)