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


NORTH GWILLIMBURY is the smallest township in the county, both in area and population. It comprises 29,011 acres, and according to the last census has 2,151 inhabitants. It is bounded by Lake Simcoe to the north, East Gwillimbury to the south, Cooke's Bay to the west, and Georgina to the east. The concessions, of which there are eight, are numbered eastward from Yonge Street, though the first conccssion only comprises a few lots in a little strip of land south of Cooke's Bay, and the second has a broken front, the water encroaching in some places upon the third concession. The eighth concession is also deficient, as the rear line does not run parallel with Yonge Street, but due north and south. North Gwillimbury was first settled early in the present century. The earliest patent is one dated in 1800. The following is a lift of some of the patentees:—

1800—J. Ozburn.

1803—James Roche, Isaac Willcox, Garrett Vanzante, Antoine Lapalme, Ann Woodcock.

1804—Antoine German Bertrand, Hon. James Baby, William Smalley, John Mardoff.

1805—Levi Bales, William Garner, Frederick Sprague.

1806—Edward Heazel, Calvin Ennes, Joseph Quarry, Ira Gardiner, Quetton de St. George, Samuel Lawrence, Beniamin Reynolds, Alice Cook, Mary Rogers, Cornelius Ryckman, Joseph Willson, Catharine Wesbour, Magdalene Allair, Frederick Augustus Goring, Elizabeth Veeiner, Eliza Forfar, Benjamin Cozens, Simon Montross, James Gromer, Rev. Patrick.

1807—John Small, Peter Anderson, Alexander Wood, David Bishop Warren, Ann Sherrard, Lieut-Col. Augustin Beiton, Le Chevalier de Mariscal, John Conrad Miller, James Davidson.

1808—Jean Louis, Vicomte de Chalus, Samuel Moody Kmsal, Una Curlett, Catherine Osborne, Levi Sherwood, George Bond, Margaret Munday, Andrew Bigham, Sarah Fodcr.

1809—Esther Dennison.

1815—D. Mann.

1818—Eli McDonnell.

1820—Peter Anderson, Damis Mann.

1821——Margaret McDonnell.

1822—D. Cox.

1823—Rachel Wolcott.

1825—Alexander Kennedy.

1828—John Winch, William Powell, Henry E. Nichols.

1833—David Sprague.

1835—Louis Fontaine.

1836—Thomas Mossington, Elisha Mitchell.

1839—James Rose.

1840 —Ephraim Holland Payson, Rev. John Boaf, J. B. Sprague.

1842—Arad Smalley.

1845—George Tomlinson.

1846—-William Mesin.

1847—Andrew Willoughby.

1857—John Gaedike.

1862—Silas B. Fourbonson.

About one-third of the total area of North Gwilliambury, m the northern and western parts, is flat, low-lying land, a large portion of which is swampy. Three thousand acres are stony, and the remainder is undulating cultivable land. Heavy clay and sandy loam are the predominant characteristics of the soil, but there are considerable areas of clay loam and sand, and smaller tracts of gravel and black loam. The proportions of first, second, and third-class land are about equal. The values range from $50 to $80 for first-class land, $25 to $50 for second-class, and §10 to S25 for third-class farms. About two-thirds of the farms are under first-class fences, and the dwellings are half of the first-class and the remainder inferior. A very small proportion of the land has been improved by under-drainage. The proportion of land devoted to the principal items of agricultural produce is as follows :—Fall wheat, one-tenth; spring wheat, one-third; barley, one-tenth; oats, one-tenth; peas, one-twentieth; potatoes one one-hundred-and-fiftieth; turnips, one - hundredth; hay, one-tenth-, pasturage, one-fifth. The yield per acre as nearly as can be calculated is as follows:—Fall wheat, 20 bushels ; spring wheat, 15 bushels ; barley, 25 bushels; oats, 35 bushels; peas, 20 bushels; potatoes, 100 bushels; turnips, 500 bushels; hay, one ton. About one-twenty-fifth of the whole area is still wooded. There is but little improved live stock :n the township. The returns for 1881 show 1,754 head of cattle, 1,306 horses, 1,594 sheep, and 784 hogs.

The early records of the township show that in 1821 the number of the inhabitants of North Gwillimbury and Georgina were 272. In 1822 the population of the two townships had increased to 314—in 1823 it was 339. North Gwillimbury, 'n 1842, contained 697 inhabitants—in 1850 the num ber was 1,172. The census of 1871 showed a population of 2,304, which, as in most of the townships, has fallen off somewhat during the last decade, the census of 1881 giving the number as 2,151. Of this number 1,869 are of Canadian birth.

The agricultural products of 1849 included 26.000 bushels of wheat, 13,000 bushels of oats, 5,000 bushels of peas, 13,000 bushels of potatoes, and 10,000 bushels of turnips. In 1881 the yield amounted to 53,168 bushels of wheat, 22,921 bushels of barley, 76,720 bushels of oats, 20,843 bushels of peas and beans, 24,367 bushels of potatoes, 26,833 bushels of turnips, and 2,692 tons of hay.

"he occupiers of land number 335, of whom 224 own the soil, the total area in occupation being 28,783 acres, of which 19,106 acres are improved land. The area devoted to field crops is 14,763 acres, 3,826 acres being pasture, and 517 gardens and orchards.

The townships of North Gwillimbury and Georgina were united for some time. The Officials for the united townships fo; 1822 were as follows: —Arad Smalley, town clerk; Holland A. Payson and Alexander Lawson, assessors; Joshua Utier, collector; Erastus Smalley, Asa Crittenden, George Williams, Daniel Mann, Zenas Ilentley, Fountain D. Hunter, and William Carter, path-masters; Silas Ernes and L. Hale, pound-keepers; William Crittenden and Joseph Lo   e, town wardens. In 1823 Arad Smalley was town clerk ; Asa Smalley and Betuamin Jefferson, assessors; H. H. Payson, collector, and Joel Draper and Simeon Martin, town wardens. The town wardens for 1824 were Jacob Draper and J. Donald— for 1825, John Comer and Squire Martm. In 1826 the Township of Georgina was separated from North Gwillimbury, and the record of municipal proceedings thenceforward relates to the latter township only.

In 1827 Joel Draper and David Mann were town wardens; Silas Ernes, assessor; John Prossor, collector, and Arad Smalley, town clerk. In 1828 David Sprague became township clerk, an office which he retained until 1842. James Ciittenden and Ephraim W. Payson were town wardens for the former year. The town wardens for some years following were as follows: 1829—David Sprague and Noah Gager; 1830—Joseph Rose and Martin Warmer; 1831—J. Rose and Squire Martin; 1832—Abraham Sedore and Austin Huntley; 1833—N. Gager and Joel Draper; 1834— Silas Emes and Israel Bennett; 1835—J. Ross and E. Willoughby.

In 1836 the municipal system underwent some changes. D. Sprague, B. W. Smith, John Prossor and Justin Hatfield were chosen commissioners. In 1837 the commissioners were Justin Hatfield, Isaac Bennett and Peter Bilder. A memorandum dated 1st of January, 1838, is as follows: "In consequence of the Rebellion which broke out on the 4th of last December no township meeting took place this day. The township officers of last year therefore remain in their var ous offices during the year. David Sprague, town clerk." The records contain a minute of a special session of the magistrates for the division of North Gwillimbury and Georgina, held at North Gwillimbury on the 16th April, 1838, bearing the signatures of Arad Smalley, J.P., and Thomas Mossington, J.P. In 1839 Oliver Barton, N. Gager, and D. Sprague, sen'r, were town wardens. There was another special session of magistrates of the two townships this year at which Arad Smalley, James D. Boucher, of Georgina, Thomas Mossington, and Simon Lee were present. In 1840 the town wardens were Silas Ernes, J. Bennett, and G. D. Earl; in 1841, D. Sprague, sen'r, and George D. Earl; 1842, J. Carbett, Silas Emes, and George W. Chipperfield. In this year David Dawson was appointed town clerk in place of Mr. Sprague, and retained the position until his death, in 1846, when Mr. Sprague was again chosen to the office. The town wardens for 1843 were G. D. Earl, G. V . Chipperfield, and J. Bennett. In 1844. trie Home District Councd was organized, Isaac Bennett being chosen councilman for the township. The town wardens for this year were, G. W. Chipperfield, N. Gager, and 1). Sprague, sen'r.

The town wardens for the remaining years during which this office existed were as follows: 1845—II. Iluntly, Austm Iluntly, Simeon Iluntly; 1846--T. Mossington, Israel Shepherd, J. Chipperfield; 1847—Cornelius Silver, William L. T. Corbett, G. D. Earl; 1848—John Prossor, Hugh II. Wiison, Silas Emes; 1849—Nicholas Bennett, Robert Anderson, S. Sprague, sen'r.

In 1850 it is recorded that the first meeting of the municipal council of the township took place 011 the 22nd of January, at Dughili school house, Isaac Bennett being reeve, and Messrs. J. Prossor, Arad Shepherd, J. Morton, and D. Sprague, councillors, and Richard Sheppard, township clerk. Thomas Mossington became reeve the following year. In 1852

John Prosser was elected to the reeveship. He was succeeded in 1853 by David Sprague, who held the office for two years. He subsequently held the same position in 1856, 185S, and 1864. In 1855 and 1862 the reeveship fell to John Morton, and in 1857 to I). B. Wilson. Thomas Evans filled the chair in 1859 and again in 1861, William Henry in i860 and 1865, Henry Draper in 1863 and subsequently for the period 1866-69. In 1870 he was succeeded by John Marritt who had a five years' term, and filled the position again in 1876. Elijah Prossor and Willard Bennett are also among those who have held the office of late years. The present reeve is R. M. Van Norman of Keswick, the deputy-reeve being D. H. Sprague of the same place. The other councillors are Stephen Winch and J. D. Davidson, both of Belhaven, and John Boag, of Ravenshoe. Henry Sennett, Belhaven, is township clerk; E. Nosser, of Keswick, treasurer, and Ellis Sheppard, of Belhaven, assessor.

The township meetings, for some fifteen years past, have been held at Belhaven, a village containing about a hundred inhabitants, occupying a central position in the township. Keswick, originally called Medina, ,s picturesquely located on the summit of the uplands, overlooking Cooke's Bay to the west. The population is about one hundred and sixty/ Three miles to the north is the village of Roach's Point, on the headland which forms the northern limit of Cooke's Bay, the romantic situation and surroundings of which have not availed to induce its growth. It was formerly known as " Keswick," but lost its official designation when the post-office was removed to the lower village. A mile and a half south of Keswick is Jersey. The three villages are connected by a road following the course of the elevated land along the coast. Another road strikes across the township in a north-easterly direction from Ravenshoe in East Gwillimbury. This was the outlet of travel to Yonge Street in the early days of settlement. The Lake Simcoe Junction Railway traverses the township from south to north within a very short distance of its eastern boundary.

North Gwillimbury contains seven school sections, and seven teachers.

No. 1 is half a mile east of Queen Street, and on the first side-road north from the town-line south. It is a plank or frame building of considerable age, and not so comfortable as recent improvements have made pretty general. The average attendance under the present teacher, Miss Sarah Earl, s 35.

No. 2 is also 011 Queen Street, five miles north of the town-line, and half a mile north of Keswick, or Dug Hill. The house is a rough-cast frame of good size and comfort. The average attendance is 33. Teacher, J. E. Pollock.

No. 3 is situated on the base-line, two miles directly west of Sutton, and one and a half from Lake Simcoe. The house is an old plank or frame, with some recent improvements and good furniture. The average attendance is 32. The teacher, Miss T. Price.

No. 4 is nearly in the centre of the township, on the farm of John Morton, Esq., lot 18, 5th concession, and is an old frame house fairly furnished and kept. Average attendance, 41. Teacher, Miss Sarah Fisher.

No. 5 is on the south-east corner of lot 6 in the 5th concession in the English Settlement. It is an old frame building, with a recent addition to make legal space for the school population, but not comfortable or attractive inside. Miss Thusnelda Borugasser is the teacher. Her average attendance is 40.

No. 6, or Roach's Point School, is an old frame house on the base-line, about six miles west from Sutton, on lot 23, 3rd concession. The average attendance under the present teacher, Miss Jennie Rogers, is 20.

No. 7, known as Gum Swamp School, is situated on lot 15, 7th concession. The building is a neat and comfortable frame building erected in 1882. Miss Mossie Sheppard is the teacher. The average attendance is 18.


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