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History of Toronto and County of York in Ontario
Part III: Village of Holland Landing


HOLLAND LANDING is the northern terminus of Yonge Street and was a noteworthy point in the line of travel between the Lake Simcoe region and Lake Ontario long before the settlement of the country. A historic interest attaches to it as the spot where the Indians were accustomed to embark and land when going on, or if returning from, expeditions to the great lakes. The old Indian trail ran from this neighbourhood to the west of Yonge Street, following the main stream of the Holland River and afterwards the valley of the Humber.

The Holland River, from which the Landing is named, and on the east branch of which it is situated, received its appellation from Major Holland, who was Surveyor-General of the Province of Quebec, before Upper Canada became a separate Province. This office? distinguished himself in the war which resulted in the conquest of Canada by the British, and after the cession of the country was appointed Surveyor-General, and made extensive explorations in that capacity. He penetrated from Toronto Bay through a then unknown region to the river which now bears his name. Major Holland died in 1801.

At the Upper Landing, where the village proper is located, only small boats can land. The Lower Landing, for steamers and larger craft, is some distance further down the stream, which ic much obstructed by the swampy and weedy nature of its banks. At the Lower Landing, near which Yonge Street strikes the river, there were formerly a number of Government buildings, built of logs, and used as military and naval storehouses. This cluster of buildings was known as Fort Gwillimbury.

Mr. John Gait's "Autobiography" contains the following references to Holland Landing. Speaking of his journey from Toronto to Goderich via Penetanguishene in 1827, the author narrates how, after leaving Newmarket, "we went forward to a place on the Holland River called Holland's Landing, an open space which the Indians and fur-traders were in the habit of frequenting. It presented to me something of a Scottish aspect in the style of the cottages, but instead of mountains the environs were covered with trees. We embarked at this place."

In 1832 the project of a steamer for the Holland River and Lake Superior was advanced. In order to carry out the scheme subscriptions to the amount of 2.000 were called for by advertisement in the York Courier of February 29th of that year, it being intimated that Captain McKenzie would take up one-fourth of the amount required to construct the boat. The shares were placed at 12 10s. each. A number of well-known names in the early history of York County appear on the list of shareholders, including those of Hon. Peter Robinson, J. O. Bouchier, John Powell, Grant Powell, Samuel P. Jarvis, James E. Small, G. Ridout, T. G. Ridout, Thomas Radenhurst, Jesse Ketchum. and Samuel Lount. The movement resulted in the construction of the steamer Simcoe, which was built at the Upper Landing, and when finished was with great difficulty dragged through the swampy accumulations n the river to deep water. This vessel plied for some years between the Lake Simc.oe ports and Holland Landing. Other steamers built at an early date were the Peter Robinson, Captain Bell, and the Beaver, Captain Laughton.

The population of Holland Landing in 1851 was about 500. At that date it had a grist mill and two saw-mills, one of thern worked by steam power, a foundry, tannery, and brewery. The population has not increased much since then, as the census of 1881 gives a total of 580.

Holland Landing is a station on the Northern Railroad, and about thirty-two miles from Toronto. It was incorporated in 1861. Its first reeve was W. I). McLeod, who held office for two years. Among others who have subsequently held the position are R. T. Wilson, B. Thorne, W. H. Thorne and James McClure, the latter being the present occupant of the civic chair. Frederick J. Kitching is the clerk and treasurer. There are places of worship in the village in connection with the Church of England, Methodists and Plymouth Brethren. The Public. School is a double frame house, with large class-rooms and ante-room, and teachers' retiring-rooms. The teachers, Douglas G. Wiley and Miss Woodington have an average of fifty pupils.


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