A History of Simcoe County, Ontario, Canada

VOLUME I (It's Public Affairs)

This work naturally divided itself into two parts, distinct from each other in some ways, yet interwoven in other respects.

First, a history of the public affairs of the county, and of its material progress, its institutions, etc.

Second, a record of its pioneers with brief sketches of their lives, more especially those pioneers who took some part in public affairs.

As to the sources from which the material has been gathered for this work, only a few remarks are necessary. In some degree, the work of a person who undertakes to write a history of modern times, whether general or local, consists in going over newspaper files and similar records. The writer did some work of this kind, but he had also to develop the history of the days before the newspapers began in the county, and in so far as any plan could be made it was his chief aim to secure as much material as possible about the pre-newspaper days while it is still possible to get it, since it becomes more difficult to do so as time passes. For parts of the first volume he went through the printed proceedings of the District Council and of its successor, the County Council, from the beginning in 1843 to the present time, and also the Canadian statutes. For the second volume much was gathered at various times during the last thirty years from pioneers, most of whom are now passed away to cite all the authorities, for the statements made herein, would take space only a trifle less in amount than the work itself. So it has been thought inadvisable to encumber the present text with footnotes stating the authorities, as these can be, for the present, supplied by the author to those who may require them and will apply to him.

Attempts at the compilation of a general history of this county have hitherto been confined for the most part to two or three directories issued more than thirty years ago and to an Atlas issued to subscribers in 1880 at the high price of $12.75 each. The Gazetteer and Directory of Simcoe for 1866-7 (McEvoy & Co., Toronto, 1866) had some historical notes interspersed throughout its pages, and similar notes appeared in later editions of the same published by W.H. Irwin. A more extended compilation was the Historical Sketch in Belden's Atlas (Toronto, 1880) issued at the unpopular price mentioned above. These compilations, all the work of non-residents, and anonymous, have a high percentage of error, which the conditions made inevitable. They give but scanty aid, as pilots, to anyone aiming- at the preparation of a full history. Notwithstanding- its faults, the Atlas sketch shows much patient toil and research, and as a first effort it deserves some credit.

The printing, in 1895, of the Minutes of the first District Council of Simcoe, 1843-7, which was the period before the advent of the printing press in the county, was accomplished in 1895 under the supervision of His Honour Judge Ardagh, and was an important step as it aroused some interest in the county's history. Besides its utility it discloses some of the quaint proceedings of the governing body of the county in the earliest years of its existence.

The first draft of this History appeared as a serial which the author wrote and published from week to week in the columns of the Barrie Examiner, beginning in the issue of that newspaper for October 24, 1889, and concluding in that of February 5, 1891. Appearing in that shape, it had the advantage of a winnowing through the columns of a newspaper, and it underwent the criticisms and corrections which such a process brings.

The Hon. J. S. Duff addressed the County Council on January 30, 1908, requesting them to take the initiative in having a History of the County brought to completion. The Council having thereupon resolved to bring out a History, and having appointed a special committee consisting of Councillors A.C. Garden (Chairman), Messrs. Clark, Picotte, Scanlon, Potter, Lawson and the Warden (Donald Currie Barr), who has taken a lively interest in the production of the work, the author placed the original material at their service, with the reminder that much work was required to complete it. This they authorized in the following May, and the work then proceeded. Numerous long extracts were expunged from the original, and the remaining matter fully revised and increased fivefold, the result being- the work now presented. The engravings are by the Grip Company, Toronto, and the typography of the work itself by Warwick Bros. & Rutter, Toronto.


Table of Contents

I. The Hurons and the Early French 1
II. The Ojibways and their Surrenders of the Lands 10
III. The Days of the Fur Traders 21
IV. The Old Military Route and the War of 1812 32
V. Surveying the Land and Preparing for Settlers 39
VI. The Subject of Land Grants 50
VII. The First White Settlements and the People who made them 62
VIII. The Beginning of Lake Navigation 69
IX. The First Colonization Roads 80
X. The Roads under the District Council (1843-9) 95
XI. The Common Roads and Bridges of later years 116
XII. The Old Stage Lines, before the Railway Days 142
XIII. The Early Postal Service 152
XIV. The Northern Railway 160
XV. The H.&N.W.R.R. and the Amalgamated Northern and North-Western System 187
XVI. Other Railway Lines 204
XVII. Canals 211
XVIII. Old Elections and Parliamentary Representation 216
XIX. General County Administration 235
XX. County Municipal Affairs 257
XXI. Military Affairs 275
XXII. The Schools 281
XXIII. The Early Press 298
XXIV. The Pioneer Churches 304
XXV. The Industries of the Inhabitants 323


Read the Book - Free

Download the Book ( 29.5 MB PDF ) - Free

VOLUME II (The Pioneers)


Table of Contents

I. Holland Landing... 1
II. West Gwillimbury... 13
III. Tecumseth... 32
IV. Adjala... 46
V. Innisfil... 53
VI.. Essa... 77
VII. Tosorontio... 90
VIII. The Penetanguishene - Road Part I... 95
IX. The Penetanguishene - Road Part II... 117 X. Oro... 134
XI. South Orillia... 159
XII. North Orillia... 172 XIII. Matchedash... 180
XIV. Medonte... 184
XV. Tay... 193
XVI. Vespra... 203
XVII. Flos... 214
XVIII. Tiny... 220
XIX. Sunnidale... 225
XX. Nottawasaga... 232


Lists of Pioneers... 263
Settlers before 1837... 265


Read the Book - Free

Download the Book ( 42.1 MB PDF ) - Free

The settlers who first crossed the Holland River arrived in the fall of 1819, and were three Irishmen James Wallace, Lewis Algeo and Robert Armstrong. Armstrong came from the County of Leitrim, with a family, and settled on lot 13, con. 6, within two miles of the present site of Bradford. He had a large family, chiefly boys, Christopher Thomas, John, Robert, William, Simon, James and Allan, from whom have come a numerous lineage. Christopher, the eldest, did not take up with bush life, but studied law, and afterwards became a judge in Carleton County.