Immigrants to Canada

UWInfo | Young Immigrants | Genealogy | Local History | 19th Century Immigration | Sessional Papers


From the Illustrated London News of January 30, 1847.

A letter, dated Toronto, Dec. 12, 1846, states:-"Business has been very dull this fall, partly owing to a very great quantity of rain, which has rendered the back roads almost impassable, and partly owing to the low prices the merchants, and millers have been giving for produce, which has made all who could hold, in hopes of better prices in the spring. The finest wheat is only from 2s. 9d. to 3s. a bushel of 60 lb. weight, and goo spring wheat is selling in London for 2s. 2d.; Indian corn I saw offered for 1s. 6d. per 50 lb."

This account is not unimportant in connection with "the crops of Canada," generally; and it suggests the propriety of presenting to our readers a pair of Engravings of the capital of Canada West, in illustration of the importance of the possessions which Great Britain still retains on the continent of North America. These views, we should premise, are from paintings by mr. J.F. Sanders, and have been obligingly forwarded by Mr. Capred, of Toronto.

To have anything like a true conception of the value and extent of the vast possessions which Great Britain still retains on the continent of North American, we must place before us the Map of North America. Pass your eye round the Bay of Fundy-along Cape Sable-the rocks of Nova Scotia, and the shores of the Gulph of St. Lawrence, on both sides to Quebec; add to these the coast of Labrador to Hudson's Bay-the shores of Newfoundland, Cape Breton, Prince Edward, Anticosti, and many other islands scattered over this immense surface, and you have a seaborad far more extensive than any other nation in the world possesses, and embracing the most profitable and inexhaustible fisheries on the globe. Here are materials of power and public wealth which are almost beyond calculation. Cast your eyes again over the map, and you will perceive that the British possessions enfilade, and, therefore, command the whole coast of North America. With fleets at Halifax, St. John's, Newfoundland, and Bermuda, no ship, without our permission, durst put to sea from Cape Sable to New Orleans, or any part of this immense coast, or any West India island be safe from the attack of this great Northern Empire.

Nor is this all. Open the St. Lawrence for a ship navigation-join the Lakes of Canada-works already nearly completed-and you add five thousand miles of coast, and a fertile country nearly equal to the half of Europe. Hence it appears that the British North American Provinces possess the elements of a mightier empire than any other portion of this continent.

But we must not, on the present occasion, dwell upon a theme so vast and attractive. Even Canada itself, with its rapidly-increasing population and valuable productions, is too much for us to illustrate. We have, therefore, chosen a subject which, though diminutive in comparison, may prove more interesting by bringing vividly before out readers the wonderful progress which all the substantial improvements and comforts of life are making throughout these extensive Colonies; for, though the specimen we present is perhaps superior to any other, yet it is only one of may; for, all the towns and districts are steadily following, and with a rapidity almost inconceivable to the inhabitants of old countries.

Our specimen is the rise and progress of Toronto, the Capital of Canada West, which, during the last thirty years, has advanced from a small village of wooden houses, with a few hundred inhabitants, and one miserable schooner annually landing its goods and passengers in a crazy boat, (for there was no wharf), to a city of elegant and commodious brick and stone buildings, with twenty thousand inhabitants, and numerous quays round its spacious and safe harbour, crowded with ships and steam-boats hourly coming and departing.

Among the causes which have induced this remarkable flow of prosperity, the following are not the least, viz., the natural advantages her peculiar position gives her, bing situated at the head of one of the most magnificent inland seas in the world; her natural and capacious harbour, which is capable at any time of receiving within is bosom all the steamers and vessels engaged in the commerce of the country, where they may life secure against the violence of any gale; the splendid country extending for miles in her rear, and on either side of her-which, although well-populated, is capable of an incalculable addition-a section of country, abounding with immense water power, which, for fertility of soil, and excellence of climate, is not surpassed by any other country on the continent of America; and, besides, she owes much of her industry, enterprise, and energy, to her merchants, tradesmen, and artizans.

Toronto is charmingly situated on the margin of Lake Ontario, near its upper or north-western extremity; it recedes from the water with a gentle acclivity commanding a superb view of the great inland sea, and is in the heat of summer cooled and refreshed by its breezes. The harbour is by far the best, safest, and most commodious on that side of the Lake from Hamilton to Kingston; is is [sic] formed by a remarkably long and narrow peninsula, in the shape of a half-moon, which breaks the sea in rough weather, and shields the vessels from harm. This peninsula, indeed, resembles an artificial breakwater rather than a natural production. Such a harbour is of course a place of refuge during storms and tempests, as it is also a point on which commerce has rested her golden wing.

The margin of the Lake is studded with mansions and private residences; among which the most picturesque may be mentioned is that of the Lord Bishop, the Hon. G. Crookshank, the Hon. T.H. Dunn, the Hon. R.S. Jameson, the Vice Chancellor, the Hon. C. Widmer, the Hon. R. Baldwin, the Hon. H.T. Boulton, Frederick Widder, Esq., Charles C. Small, Esq., Mr. Justice Jones, &c., &c.

Among the public buildings is St. James's Cathedral, capable of accommodating a congregation of upwards of 3000 persons; the new City Hall and Public Market, where the Municipal body holds its deliberations; the Banks of Upper Canada-Commercial, British, North American, and Montreal; the former Government House, and Grounds, now held by the Corporation for the use of the citizens as Public Gardens; the Parliament Buildings, temporarily occupied by the Professors and Students of King's College, and as public offices; Osgoode Hall, the property of the Law Society, where the different Courts and Law Offices are to centralise; the Goal and Court House, of cut stone; Upper Canada College; King's College, now in course of construction; the Hospital; the Provincial Lunatic Asylum; the New Garrison; St. Andrew's Church; Roman Catholic Cathedral; Trinity Church; St. George's Church; the new Wesleyan Chapel, and numerous other religious and civic buildings.

The College, under the direction of Mr. Principal Barron, and the University, presided over by the Rev. Dr. McCaul, are institutions of high repute. They are liberally endowed; and, when the building of the University is completed, it will have no superior on this side of the Atlantic.

Nor, while Toronto is thus provided with these essential requisites, is it deficient in those associations which contribute to amusement, for Toronto rejoices in a Race-course, Cricket-ground, a Racquet-court, and a Bowling-green; all of which are fully equal, if not superior, to similar matters in any of the provincial towns in England. Besides these, there are a Regatta Club, the Home District Agricultural Society, the News Room, Mechanics' Institute, Public Baths, and various other appliances of civilisation.

Toronto is an incorporated City, and has a Mayor, and Court of Aldermen and Common council, comprised of ten Aldermen and ten Common Councilmen under whose enterprising management numerous public improvements have been carried out, by means of which the prosperity of the City has been greatly advanced-conspicuous amongst which are the extensive Gas and Water-works.

Toronto is an Episcopal City of the Diocese, being one of the Colonial Bishoprics lately established. The present incumbent-the first who has filled this high office-if the Honourable and Right Reverend John Strachan, D.D., who has spent nearly fifty years in promoting the cause of sound education and true religion throughout the Province.

In maritime advantages, Toronto has a marked superiority over any other town in Western Canada, having the harbour open at all seasons of the year; while all other localities of the Lakes are fast locked in icy fetters, and remain closed to navigation for three months in the year.

The City of Toronto is laid out at right angles, and the streets are spacious and airy. The principal outlets from the town-which are either planked or macadamised-are Yonge-street, to the north, leading to Lake Simcoe, thence by Penetanqueshene to Lake Huron; to the east, by the Kingston road, through several thriving towns and villages to Kingston; to the west, by Dundas-street, (t)hrough a thickly-settled country, to Dundas, Hamilton, Brantford, London, &c.;(t)hus rendering Toronto the centre to which converge the products of the surounding[sic] fertile country, thickly inhabited by an industrious population, to whom t[sic] gives manufactures and merchandise in return. Several enterprises, calculated o[sic] develop the internal resources of the country, and stimulate the progress of (t)he City, have been projected, and will shortly be carried into effect. Of these, (t)he most encouraging is the Toronto and Lake Huron Railroad, which will connect Toronto with Lake Huron at Sarnia or Goderich, in the far west.

Should the foregoing description of Toronto fail to convey an adequate or correct idea of its rapid progress to our old Country friends, we have been reminded by several visitors who have travelled in most parts, that Toronto, in point of situation, with regard to its resident population, and, speaking in general, more nearly resembles Southampton, in England, than any town we are acquainted with.

UWInfo | Young Immigrants | Genealogy | Local History | 19th Century Immigration | Sessional Papers

© Marjorie P. Kohli, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, 2000-2007
Last updated: February 15, 2007 and maintained by Marj Kohli