The Retort of the
Ontario Agricultural Commission—Statistics Relating to the County of
York.—Character of the Soii.— Water. Price of
Farms.—Stumps.—Fences.—Farm Builings and Out-buildings.—Drainage.—Farm
Machinery.—Fertilizers.—Uncleared Lands. — Acreage and Average Products.
— Stock and Stock By-laws.—'Timber Lands.—Market Facilities.—Local
Industries.—Mechanics, Farm Labourers and Domestics.
IN the Report of the
Ontario Agricultural Commission, compiled and published under the
auspices of the Ontario Government about three years since, is to be
found a great mass of agricultural and other information respecting .the
more important municipalities in this Province. The information
collected therein with regard to the County of York is especially
comprehensive and valuable, and includes statistical data relating to
the soil, climate, topographical features, cultivable area and products,
and the general progress and condition of husbandry. The various
townships comprised within the County of York, as at present
constituted, are represented as having been "entered and largely settled
" between the years 1790 and 1815. "The first entered"—so runs the
report—"was Markham, and the last Georgina. in the years named."
One-third of the latter township is represented as being still
unsettled, together with about two thousand acres in East Gwillimbury
and one thousand in North Gwillimbury; but some progress has been made
since the publication of the report, and the proportion of unsettled
lands aie at the present day slightly under the figures therein given.
In the remaining townships, we are informed, the process of settlement
was completed in, on an average, a little more than 45+ years.
headings, we next find m the report the following useful information :—
Character of the Soil.
Heavy clay, clay loam,
and sandy loam, are the predominating soils in this county. Heavy clay
exists m the proportion of about twenty-one per cent with a depth of
from eight to twenty-four inches, and resting principally on subsoils of
clay and marl; clay loam, about thirty-eight per cent depth from eleven
to fifteen inches, and resting principally or subsoils of clay and marl;
sandy loam, about twenty-two per cent., depth from six to twelve inches,
with subsoils of clay and marl; sand, about ten and a-hah our cent
depthi not determinable, with subsoils of quicksand and gravel;
gravelly, not appreciable; black loam, about eight and half per cent
depth from two to eight feet, and resting on clay, sand and quicksand.
Except in North Gwillimbury, which reports three thousand acres, there
is no land in the county which is too stony or has rock too near the
surface to be profitably cultivated. About seven per cent, is so hilly
as to be objectionable for the purposes of cultivation, about eleven per
cent, is bottom, seven and a-half per cent, is swampy, and rather less
than two per cert, wet springy land. About sixty-eight per cent, of the
area is reported as rolling and cultivable. About forty-four and a-half
per cent, is reported first-class for agricultural purposes,
thirty-three per cent, second-class, and the remainder third-class.
The county is reported
well watered by creeks, springs and wells; also by the Don, Holland,
Humber, Black, and Rouge Rivers; in the south by Lake Ontario, and in
the north by Lake Simcoe, and many tributary streams. Water is obtained
by digging, at depths varying from four to one hundred feet.
Price of Farms.
The Price of land
depends wholly on locality, soil and buildings, and range from $25 to
$100 per acre. The latter rate is exceptional, from $73 to $80 per acre
may be taken as the average pnce of land within a radius of twenty miles
of Toronto. Farms are leased at from $2.50 to $5.00 per acre.
About fifty-four per
cent, of the cleared acreage is reported free from stumps. On the stumps
remaining a large proportion are pine.
About sixty-nine per
cent, of the farms are reported to be under first-class fences,
consisting principally of cedar, pine and hemlock rails.
Farm Dwellings and
About sixty-two per
cent, of the farm dwellings are reported to be either of brick, stone,
or first-class frame; the remainder are log, or of inferior frame. Of
the outbuildings fifty-seven per cent, are reported first-class; the
remainder are inferior.
About twelve and a-half
per cent, of the farms are reported to have been drained, principally in
King, Markham and York townships. Tile has been largely used in the
latter township, and -in the others to a limited extent.
About ninety-three per
cent, of the farmers use improved machinery for seeding and harvesting.
There are larger
quantities of artificial fertilizers employed in this county than in any
other county in the Province—the average being forty-two per cent.
Plaster and salt are used in the proportion of from one hundred pounds
to one hundred and fifty pounds of the former, and three hundred pounds
of the latter, on nearly all descriptions of crops—but plaster,
principally, on clover and roots, and salt on cereals. Superphosphate is
also employed to a small extent on roots.
About eighty-nine per
cent, of the uncleared land is reported suitable for cultivation, if
Acreage and Average
The township area of
York is 540,271½ acres; the cleared area is 392.5I3½. Of the latter,
about 12½ per cent, is devoted to fall wheat, which yields, on an
average (omiting East Gwillimbury, which does not in any case report the
yield), about 20 bushels per acre; spring wheat, about 13 per cent, and
12½ bushels; barley, 11½. per cent, and 25½ bushels; oats, 12½ per cent,
and 38½ bushels; rye (hardly any sown), from 15 to 20 bushels; peas, 7
per cent, and 19½ bushels; corn (hardly any grown), from 25 to 40
bushels; buckwheat (in Whitchurch only), 1 per cent, and 15 bushels;
potatoes about 1½ per cent, and 103½ bushels; turnips, 1½ per cent, and
383 bushels; other root crops, about 1 per cent, and 457 bushels; hay,
about 14 per cent, and 1½ tons. About 16 per cent, is devoted to
pasture, and about 2 per cent, to orchards. In King 12½ per cent., in
Markham about 9 per cent, and in Vaughan about 14 per cent, is put under
summer fallow. The county is well adapted for stock raising, grain
growing and dairying. A good deal of attention is being paid to the
former in townships specially adapted for grazing and for the growth of
clover. Fruit growing and market gardening are also largely followed,
especially in Etobicoke and York townships, where are also some
Stock and Stock By-Laws.
The townships sustain
27,669 horned cattle, 20,230 horses, 27,984 sheep, and 14,388 hogs. The
horses are draught and general-purpose, with Clydesdale blood (some fine
thoroughbreds have been introduced, and the number is increasing);
cattle—Durham, Ayrshire and Devon grades; sheep—Leicester, Cotswold and
Southdown; and hogs—Berkshire, Suffolk and Essex. A great improvement
has taken place of late years in all descriptions of farm stock.
About twenty-two and
a-half per cent, of the area of York is still under timber, consisting
of beech, maple, elm, basswood, pine, hemlock, cedar, tamarack and
birch; used for building purposes, fencing and firewood.
The market facilities
of this county are unexceptionable. Toronto, the principal market
centre, is easily reached by road and railway. There are also good
markets at Newmarket (which has just become a town—the only one in the
county outside of Toronto), Sutton, Aurora, Stouffville, and King. Every
township has one or more railways passing through it, or is within easy
access to railways. Nearly all the farm produce of the county is
consumed in Toronto, or is shipped thence to eastern and western
Omitting the City of
Toronto, which has no municipal connection with the County of York, and
which has large and varied manufactories, there are, in addition to
other local industries dependent upon or providing a market for
agricultural products, three flouring mills reported in Etobicoke; two
cheese factories, two tanneries, two carding mills, seven saw mills and
seven grist mills, in King; milling, farm implements, carriage and wagon
and two cheese factories, in Markham; two agricultural implement
factones in Vaughan; six grist, one woollen, and three paper mills and
three tanneries, in York; and flouring, saw and planing mills, a
tannery, a woollen mill, a hat manufactory, and organ, carriage and
furniture manufactories in Newmarket. Some lumbering is still carried on
in the county. All which matters are more particularly treated of in the
respective townships- to which they severally belong.
Labourers and Domestics.
There is no special
demand for farm labourers, but good hands can always secure work in
summer at high wages, and domestics all the year round. The demand for
mechanics is not great.