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History of Toronto and County of York in Ontario
Part III: Township of Georgina


GEORGINA was surveyed and settled at a date considerably later than the other townships of the county. According to the original plan in the Surveyor-General's office if was laid out by Mr. Duncan McDonald, acting under instructions from Surveyor-General Thomas Ridout in 1817. Settlement, however, had begun about two years previously. The first patents were issued in 1819. The name of the township was given in honour of George III. It is in the extreme north-east of the county, and is bounded on the north by Lake Simcoe, on the west by North Gwillimbury, on the south by Scott, and on the east by Brock, both the latter townships being in the County of Ontario, to which Georgina seems naturally by its location to belong rather than to York. The township comprises 34,996 acres, about two-thirds of the total area being settled. It has eight concessions running east and west, two of them broken by the lake. It is crossed by numerous ridges running south-west to north-east, the soil of the uplands being rood agricultural land, while that of the depressions between the ridges is swampy, requiring drainage to render it cultivable. The swampy portion comprises about half the land in the township. One-fourth of the soil is heavy clay, and ail equal area sand, the latter being principally found in the eastern section. The remainder is divided in nearly equal proportions between clay loam, sandy loam, gravel, and black loam.

Rock of lower Silurian formation appears on the surface at Pefferlaw along the stream, and at Duclean Point, where the same stratum is exposed on the lake shore. Large boulders are deposited along the ridges, especially at their north-eastern termination. These are water-worn, and. have evidently been conveyed to the spot by icebergs' when the country was submerged. The first-class land of the township, embracing about one-half the area, is valued at from $50 to $80 per acre; swamp lands bring about $10.

 

The list of the earlier patentees of the township includes the following:—

1819—Alexander Robbins, Rebecca Greangan, Dorothy Buck, Michael Cryderman, Isaac Orser, George Snook, Joseph Morden, jun'r, Abraham Lambert, John Denieli, Jane Deniell, Wilhelm Dusenbery, Arnoldi Borland, Jane Smith, Rebecca David, Margaret Raker, Gilbert Orser, John Dusenbery, Jane Eveutt, David Secord, David Burdett, Thomas Fairman, John Fralick, Nancy Goldsmith, Nathaniel Hand, David Kmnaly, John McTaggart, Elizabeth Hess, Margaret Hess, Sarah Coleman, Deborah Osborn, John Phillips, James Phillips, Mary PI Hips, Samuel Peak, Tenby Taylor', Abram Dafoe, John Goldsmith, David Goldsmith, Mary Tripp, John van Horn, Peter Bonner, Susannah Bennett, Joseph Kellar, John William Bouchier.

1820—Angus McDonald, alias Roy, Arah McDonald, John McLennan, Donald Eraser.

1821—Susannah Lousuir, Henry A. E. Pilkington, Margaret McDonnell.

1822—John Comer, Asa Smalley, John Peregrine, James Dorkhy, James Johnson, William Carter, John Dusenbery.

1825—Philip Wickwire, John King.

1826—Charles Hay Howard, Thomas McKie, William Miller.

1827—William Johnson, William Kimmerly, Anthony Trimper, Loal Hale.

1828—David Brady, James Donnell.

1829—Roche Moffatt, William Crawford, ANenas Huntly.

1830—Amable Du Sang, James Cummmg, J. C. Bouchier.

1831—David Robertson, Benjamin Ritchie, Catherine Harvey.

1832—Andrew Wagner, Austin Huntly.

1833—Neil Farman, Daniel Sullivan, Hugh Morrison.

1834—Abram Oldum, Robert Johnson, Patrick Rock, Simeon Secord.

1835—George Augustus Jack, John Elerbeck, Cathenne Bogge, Dan. King, Mary Donahoe', Godfrey W7heeler, James O'Brien Bouchier.

1836—Charles Henry Bernard, J. Hann.

1838—George Playter.

1839—James Appleton, Samuel Park.

1840—William W. Baldwin, William i\llan, John Rae, John Finston, John Davis, William K. Rains.

1843—Patrick Roche.

1845—Joseph Lyall, Thomas Allen Stayner, John Graham.

1846—Absalom Hurst.

1848—Samuel Brook, William Dalie.

1850—Kenneth Cameron.

The two earliest settlers in Georgina, so far as known, were Captain lames O Brien Bouchier and John Comer. The former commanded Fort Penetanguishene during the war of 1812, and afterwards took up land like many other otficers who retired on half pay at the close of hostilities and became permanent settlers. The first white child born m the township was the daughter of John Coiner, who lived to a good old age. Mr. Coiner was the first assessor and collector of the municipally. Georgina was united for municipal purposes with the adjoining Township of North Gwillimbury until 1826. After the separation took place, the first town clerk elected was Alexander Craig Lawson, the first, and for some time the only, school teacher in the township, who held the clerkship for many years. The accessible records of the townsli 'p are very scanty, and but little information is procurable as to the early officials. The first reeve was Charles II. Howard, who held office during the years 1850-51. The position was filled m 1852 by James Bouchier, in 1853 by John Boyd, in 1854-55 by Samuel Park, in 1856 by W. S. Turner. Angus Ego, the present township clerk, succeeded him, and continued in office for the six years 1857 62, and after an interval of one year, during which Archibald Riddell filled the chair, was again chosen for 1864-65. Then Archibald Riddell had a six years term, and was followed by Donald McDonald, who presided over for five years consecutively. James Anderson was chosen in 1877, and re-elected n 1878. Mr. Ego was township clerk and treasurer from 1872 until 1877, when John Guben was chosen clerk and George Evans, treasurer. In 1878 P. McPherson was clerk. Angus Ego was re-elected township clerk in 1881. The officials for 1884 are as follows:—Reeve, J. R. Stevenson, Georgina; deputy-reeve, Henry Park, Vochill; councillors, John Kay, Mark Kay and Christopher Raynard; treasurer, George Evans, jun'r; collector, George Lake ; assessor, Wm. E. Tomlinson; auditors, Alexander Williams and William Fry.

In 1842 Georgina contained 586 inhabitants. The population in 1850 had increased to 946. In 1871 the number was 1,987. While most of the townships of this county have decreased in population during the decade 1871-81, Georgina shows an increase of about one-fifth, the number of inhabitants, according to the last census, being 2,4.82. Of these 2,039 are native Canadians. The occupiers of land number 298 ; occupants, who are also proprietors, are 216 in number. The total area in occupation is 29,469 acres, of which 16,938 acres are improved. The portion of this under tillage is 13,109 acres, 3.514 acres being grazing lands, and 315 acres gardens and orchards.

The returns of agricultural produce for 1849 gave the following figures in round numbers:—:3,000 bushels of wheat, 8.000 bushels oi oats, 3,000 bushels of peas, 9,000 bushels of potatoes, and 9,000 bushels of turnips. The Dominion census of 1881 gives the following as the yield of the staple crops —Wheat, 39467 bushels; barley, 13,769 bushels; oats, 70,261 bushels; peas and beans, 22,420 bushels; potatoes, 25,304 bushels; turnips, 78,583 bushels, and hay 2,196 tons.

As closely as can be ascertained, the acreage of agricultural land is distributed among the leading crops in the following proportions :—Fall wheat, 10 per cent.; sprang wheat, 20 per cent.; barley, 5 per cent.; oats, 8 per cent.; peas, 6 per cent.; potatoes, 1 per cent.; turnips, 2 per cent.; hay 10 per cent.; pasturage, 30 per cent.; orchard, 1 per cent. The land yet uncleared, about one-third of the total area, is timbered with hemlock, hardwood, cedar and tamarack. The live stock of the township in 1881 included 1,684 head of cattle, 823 horses, 1,485 sheep and 606 hogs. The varieties most extensively raised are heavy draught horses and ordinary cattle. The quantity of thoroughbred stock raised in the township is small, but increasing. Among those who are owners of Durham cattle may be rnentioned John L, Howard and James Baine.

Sutton, also known as Georgina, the latter being the name of the post-office, is the principal village in the township. It was originally called * Bouchier's Mills," and owes its origin to the enterprise of Captain James O'Brien Bouchier before referred to, who established a flouring mill and factories, and did a great deal in other ways to build up the village as a centre of population. Sutton is located on the Black River, about three miles from Lake Simcoe, and on the western boundary of the township. It has about 700 inhabitants, and is in a nourishing condition. The Church of England and Presbyterian bodies have places of worship here. Smith, the author of "Canada: Past, Present and Future,'' states that in 1851 Sutton contained a grist and saw mill, a carding and fulling mill, a tannery, and a new cloth factory in course of erection. Of these only the saw and flouring mill arc now in operation, and no new industries have taken their place. The tendency of our modern manufacturing system is all in the direction of centralization in the larger towns and cities, and the smaller factories which used to build up the country villages are becoming either abandoned or transferred to the great industrial centres.

Jackson's Point, which lies about a mile and a half to the north of Sutton, a picturesquely wooded headland, is the terminus of the Lake Simcoe Junction Railway. It is a favourite resort for excursion parties, as in addition to the beauties of the scenery it has the attraction of boating and fishing, and there are frequent steamboat trips to Belle Ewart, distant about ten miles, and to other points on the lake. The other villages are Port Bolster, situated, as its name indicates, on the lake, at the extreme northeastern angle of the township; Virginia, about midway between this point and Sutton, a mile or so distant from Lake Simcoe; Pefferlaw, in the eastern portion of the township, about three miles south-west of Port Bolster, and Vachell and Baldwin, in the western part of the township. In the south-eastern corner of the township there are three small lakes connecting with the stream which reaches Lake Simcoe near Port Bolster, and there is also another near Pefferlaw.

Georgina contains six sections, with seven Public schools.

No. 1 a union with North Gwillimbury, is situated in the Village of Sutton, the terminus of the Lake Simcoe Branch of the Midland Railway, now a part of the Grand Trunk system. The building is a handsome and substantial brick structure, with rooms for three teachers. The Principal is Robert Sanderson, whose well-directed labours have secured for his pupils several third and intermediate certificates, as well as a large number for entrance to High Schools. The average attendance is about 120.

No. 2 is situated on the hie running east from Sutton, at about four miles distance, on the south-east corner of the farm of George Evans, Esq., the township treasurer. It is a large frame house, and the average attendance is about 44. Miss S. Tomlinson is the teacher.

No. 3, the school of the fertile and attractive district known as Egypt, is situated about two miles east of the Baldwin station of the Lake Simcoe Railway, and about four south-east of Sutton. It is a large frame house, with rooms for two teachers, of whom the present headmaster :s George A. Cole. For years this school has held a foremost place for efficiency. The average attendance is about 56. The assistant is Saidie Cameron.

No. 4, called the Pefferlaw- School, stands about half a mile south of the Black River Bridge, on the same hne as No. 2, and about seven miles from Sutton. It is a mile north of the Village of Pefferlaw. It is a new and good frame structure. The average attendance, is 47. Thomas A. Wilson is the present teacher.

No. 5, the Udora School, is situated three-quarters of a mile north of Udora, on the base-line, and in the south-east corner of the township. The house is a new and comfortable frame building. The average attendance is about 30, and the teacher is Miss Maggie Thomas.

Sub-section No. 5 is a division of No. 5. with a new frame house, about two miles to the west o£ No. 5. At present it is only kept open for six months of the year, but when paid for, and the liberal sentiments of the whole section are a little more developed, the children of the western part of the section will be as well provided for as those of the eastern. Miss Orphea Birdsall was employed during the first half of 1884.

No. 6, or Cedarvale School, is situated on the base-line, a mile and three-quarters south of the Egypt School, from which it is a recent offshoot. The house i» a new and substantial frame building. The teacher, Miss Bertha Appleton, has an average attendance of 36.


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