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History of the Settlement of Upper Canada
With Special Reference to the Bay of Quinte by Wm. Canniff


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 Canada".

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 represents.

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 American

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.

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