Search just our sites by using our customised site search engine


Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Click here to learn more about MyHeritage and get free genealogy resources

History of Toronto and County of York in Ontario
Part IV: Toronto: The City Government


In the unpretending building which stands on Front Street, to the south of the St. Lawrence Market—but which, it is to be hoped, will soon be replaced by a structure more befitting the dignity of the capital of Ontario—is centered the machinery which directs the municipal affairs of the City of Toronto. A writer on the city and its history characterizes the edifice as one of the ugliest in the city, and one does not feel disposed to quarrel with him for his plain-speaking. The City Hall, in its present state, is simply an eyesore, though little more favourable can be said of its surroundings, while its unsanitary condition is a perennial source of discomfort and danger to its occupants. It is a plain building of brick, faced with stone, with a frontage of 140 feet, and is about as commonplace as it is possible for any building to be. Some interest, however, attaches to its site, as being that of the original Town Hall of Little York.

The government of the city is vested in a Mayor, elected by the people, and thirty-six Aldermen, three representing each of the twelve wards. The mayor is n receipt of a salary of $2,000, but the Aldermen serve without remuneration. Until January of the year 1884 the city consisted of but ten wards, but by the annexation of the suburbs of Riverside and Brockton—now known respectively as St. Matthew's and St. Mark's Wards—the area of the city has been greatly extended and the membership of the Council correspondingly increased, until, as a prominent daily recently remarked, it outnumbers that of many of the Provincial Assemblies of Canada. The following is a list of the wards of which the city is at present composed :—To the east of Yonge Street: St. Lawrence, St. James, St. David, St. Thomas, and St. Matthew. To the west of Yonge Street: St. Andrew, St. George, St. John, St. Patrick, St. Stephen, and St. Mark; and to the north, St. Paul's Ward, formerly the suburb of Yorkville.

The civic departments whose headquarters are in the City Hall, are:

City Clerk's Office, City Solicitor s Office, City Treasurer's Office, Engineer's Department, City Commissioner's Department, Water Works, Assessment Department, License Inspector's Department, Medical Health Office, Registration Office, and Eire Department.

City Clerk's Office.- Robert Roddy, the present City Clerk, was appointed to this position in 1875, upon the death of the late Stephen Ratcliffe, after having held several important positions in the service of the Corporation.

City Solicitor's Office.—W. G. McWilliams, City Solicitor, is a native of the County of Brant. He completed his education at the University of Toronto, where he graduated in 1863, and subsequently commenced the study of the law m the office of Messrs. Crooks, Kingsmill & Cattanach, and later on with Mr. Thomas Hodgins, Q.C. After being admitted to practise, in 1869, he entered into partnership with Messrs. Hodgins & Bull, the firm being known as Hodgins, Bull & McWilliams, and continued this connection until 1872, when the firm merged into that of Bull & McWilliams. In October, 1875, Mr. McWilliams formed a partnership with Mr. Foster, under the style and title of Foster & McWilliams, and continued in business in this connection until May, 1876, when he was appointed one of the City Solicitors, being associated in that office with the present Lieutenant-Governor ; and on the appointment of the latter to office Mr. McWilliams assumed sole charge of the legal affairs of the city.

City Treasurer's Office.—The present Treasurer, Mr. S. Bruce Harman, was appointed in 1873. K. T. Coady, Assistant City Treasurer anil Chief Accountant, is a native of Toronto, his father having removed to this cit in 1827. He for some years held the position of accountant in a local lumbering firm, and in 1872 accepted the position of Deputy-Assistant Treasurer, from which he was promoted, on the death of the then Assistant Treasurer, to the office he now holds.

John Patterson, Cashier, was born m Toronto in 1848. His father, the late Thomas Patterson, came from County Cavan to settle in the city in 1847. Mr. Patterson was appointed a junior clerk in the City Clerk's ' Office in 1872, and was promoted to his present position in 1873.

George Kimber, jun'r, Clerk, was born in London, England, in 1849, and emigrated to Canada in 1870. He was appointed Clerk to the Assessment Commissioner in 1873 and was transferred to the Treasurer's Office in 1877.

City Engineer's Department.—Charles Sproat, City Engineer, has held the office since September 24, 1883. Some years previous to that date he had occupied the position of Deputy Surveyor, having received this appointment at the time Mr. Frank Shanley assumed the duties of City Engineer, and under his directions the present sewerage arrangements of Toronto were carried out. An account of Mr. Sproat's professional career is given in the biographical section of this work.

Joseph Jopling, C.E.. Assistant City Engineer, was born at West minster, London, England. He studied his profession under the present Sir John Hawkshaw, from whom he received his diploma. His profession has taken him through nearly all the principal Oriental cities, much of his tune having been spent in travelling in the East. He also spent several years in Italy and was subsequently stationed for a time at Constantinople. He came out to Canada for the purpose of assuming a position on the Canadian Pacific Railway, but hi consequence of a change in the management of the road, he found it necessary to alter his plans, and soon afterwards accepted the position he now holds. Mr. Jopling is a member of the Institute of Civil Engineers.

William H. Schutt, Accountant, is a native of England. He studied engineering at Limehouse, London, England, and was subsequently for several years Inspecting Engineer for the Metropolitan Board of Works, and was also engaged on the main drainage. He came to Canada in 1870, since which time he has been connected whith the City Engineer's Office.

Charles H. Rust, Assistant Engineer in the City Engineer's Department, was born at Chatham Hall, Great Waltham, Essex, England. He emigrated to Canada in 1872 and held consecutively positions on the township survey in Muskoka and on the preliminary survey of the Toronto & Ottawa Railway. He was appointed roadman on the City Engineer's staff in 1877, and to his present position in 1883.

City Commissioners Department.—The City Commissioner, who presides over the Department of Works and Health, is Mr. Emerson Coatsworth. a native of Yorkshire, England. He was born in 1825 and came to Canada when only seven years old. His family selected St. Catharines as their future home, and here Mr. Coatsworth, who adopted the calling of a carpenter, remained until 1846. From that year until 1851 he engaged in various contracts, chiefly for the construction of bridges, dock works, saw mills, etc., in various parts of the Province. His first prolonged visit to Toronto was in 1851, when he undertook the construction of a bridge across the Don; and he subsequently for six months superintended the laying of the plank road running north from the city. The following year he returned to Toronto and engaged in general contracting and building.

Among the many public, works in which Mr. Coatsworth had a guiding hand, at this time, may be mentioned the wharf at Collingwood, constructed in 1852-3; the first bridge over the Northern Railway, on Dundas Street, in 1852 ; and the gravel road bridges throughout the County of Grey. In 1873 was offered the position of City Commissioner, which he accepted, and in this capacity he continued to act until his appointment, in 1881, as Commissioner of Works and Health—an office for which his previous extended experience in construction works peculiarly fitted him.

Water Works Department.—T. J. McMinn, Assistant Engineer ami Draughtsman, entered the service of the city in 1874. He has been largely identified with the construction of the water works system, having been employed in nearly all the various departments of this undertaking, as the reservoir, pumping mains, distribution, wharf, engine house and conduits, and having held the position of resident engineer on the lake extension works.

George Burton Morris, Secretary of the department, is a native of Liverpool, England. He came to Canada n 1873 and settled in Toronto, and soon after his arrival entered the office of the City Clerk. Here he remained five years, and at the tune of the abolition of the Water Works Commission he was promoted to his present position.

Joseph Raffan, head accountant, has been identified with this department since its organization in 1872. He came to Canada in childhood, and has ever since been a resident of the city.

James Hutchinson, rating clerk, is a native of Montrose, Scotland, where he was for some time connected with municipal affairs. He came out to Canada in 1873, and was soon afterwards attached to the Assessment Department, but was subsequently transferred to the Water Works.

John H. Venables, chief engineer in charge of the engine house, is a native of England, where he served his time as a mechanical engineer. He came to Toronto n 1868, and followed his profession both in this city and m the Western States. He was engaged for some time on marine and locomotive works in Detroit, and later on served as foreman in the shops at Muskegon, Mich. In 1872 he returned to Toronto to take charge of the works of Messrs. Dickey, Neb & Co., and two years later he entered the service of the city in his present position.

E. Foley is foreman of the street water mains, in which capacity he has acted since 1856, being the oldest employee in the department. He is a native of Tipperary, and emigrated to the United States in 1853. In 1855, while in the employ of a New Jersey company, he came to the city to superintend the laying of some cement ma ns, and has remained ever since in connection with the outside work of the water system, both before and since its transfer to the city corporation. In October, 1883, Mr. Foley was presented by the employees of the department with a gold watch and an illuminated address.

Thomas R. Sippon, foreman and manager of the press house, and one of the oldest employees of the department, is a native of Old London. He came to Canada m 1854 and learned his trade as a mechanic in Toronto, where he was employed by Messrs. Dickey, Neil & Co. He was inspector of the engine-house budding and adjacent wharf, and also of the pipes manufactured for the company both in the city and in Buffalo. The duties which specially fall under Mr. Skippon's department are the supervision of the repair of engines and valves for the different parts of the city, and the distribution of stores. An idea may be formed of the magnitude of the operations included under the latter head alone, from the fact that in 1883 no less than $16,000 worth of stores left the press-house.

Assessment Department.—This important branch of the civic govern mentis in charge of Mr. N. Maughan, Commissioner.

Fire Department.—The history of the Toronto Fire Department is so closely interwoven with the story of the career of the present Chief, Mr. James Ashfield, that It is next to impossible to disassociate them. Mr. Ashfield's history for the last forty-five years is the history of the. Fire Brigade, of which he has always been a prominent member, and m the improvement of which he has ever been largely instrumental. His connection therewith dates since 1839, the days of the old "bucket brigade." Previous to, and for some time after, that date, Mr. Ashfield, who came to this country from the north of Ireland with his parents in 1831, carried on the business of a gunsmith—his father's trade—after having served for two years as foreman with Ira Smith, and his successor, Win, Gurd. On the outbreak of the Rebellion in 1837, Mr. Ashfield was entrusted with the duty of putting in order and serving out to the volunteers the muskets and small arms then in store in the city, for which purpose he was authorized to engage a competent force of workmen. In 1839, when his connection with the Fire Brigade commenced, the appliances for extinguishing fire were of the rudest description ; wells and barrels were the sole reservoirs for water, and the only engines in use were four small hand machines—one of which is now at Riverside—manipulated by an unpaid volunteer corps. Mr. Ashfield's personal courage, added to his mechanical skill and executive ability, soon gained for him the confidence and respect of the members of the brigade and of the citizens generally. He rapidly rose, from private to captain, and in 1851, after twelve years of gratuitous service, he was unanimously elected Chief Engineer, a position which he has since held

uninterruptedly until the present time. Other honours had already fallen to his lot, for in 1848 his fellow-citizens had sent him as one of their representatives to the City Council—a mark of confidence which was renewed year by year until 1854, when his acceptance of a salary as Chief Engineer of the Fire Brigade necessitated his resignation. In the meantime he had every year been confirmed in the latter position, which in those days was elective, though subsequently the appointment was made permanent and vested in the City Council. In 1855 Mr. Ashfield was sent on a tour of inspection of the tire brigade systems in use in the principal cities of the United States and Canada, and the result of his observations was the purchase by the City Council, upon his recommendation, of two first-class hand engines, one of Montreal, the other of Boston make. These continued in use until the introduction of steam fire engines, the first of which was brought to the city in 1861, and was followed by a second the succeeding year. The innovation, including the employment of a small paid brigade, created some dissatisfaction in the city, and gave rise to a public demonstration of hostility to the new order of things, during which the Chairman of the Fire and Gas Committee was paid the honour of being hanged in effigy. The malcontents, however, boon became reconciled to the march of progress, and tn 1871 Toronto was n possession of four Silsby steam lire engines, three of which are yet in the city, though one only, the " J. B. Boustead," is in commission. It is gratifying to be able to state—on Mr. Ashfield's authority—that the water pressure at the hydrants has been so good that the services of this relic of a by-gone system have not been required more than three or four times since March, 1876. Another improvement that the Chief Engineer was mainly instrumental in introducing was the electric alarm system. As late as 1871 alarms were given by striking on some of the church or other bells the number of the ward in which a fire had broken out ; a very inefficient mode of indication, as in many cases the locality of the fire was not known to the brigade until revealed by the glare in the sky. Regularly for seven or eight years had Mr. Ashtield inveighed against the inadequacy of this method, and ur ;ed the adoption of the electric system as the only one adapted to the needs of the city. But in the year mentioned, Alderman Boustead, Chairman of the Fire and Gas Committee, took the matter in hand, and before August of that year the Gamewell Automatic system was in successful operation. In 1873 another reform was effected, in the construction by the city of its own water works, which in 1876 were so far advanced that the fire engines were no longer required to respond to the summons to a fire. Under the old system, when the water works were the property of a private company 20 there were but eighty-live lire hydrants, and from these the water was turned off on Tuesdays and Fridays, and at such other times as the necessity for making repairs might require. At the present time there are in the city 1,260 hydrants, from any of which a good supply of water may be obtained at a moment's notice. And now for a bit of contrast. In the old Fire Brigade, before the introduction of steam fire engines, there were six engine companies, one hook and-ladder company and one hose company— in all about 320 men. When the alarm was rung the men had to go from their several places of business to their respective fire halls, and thence haul their respective apparatus to the scene of the fire; and this once reached the probability of securing a sufficient supply of water was, to say the least, small. The present brigade consists of one company of sixty-four men, including the chief and his assistants. This company is told off into thirteen sections, ten of which consist of branch and hose, and three of hook-and-ladder men. The several sections are stationed in comfortable fire halls in different parts of the city, and nineteen horses and fourteen drivers are employed to convey them and their apparatus to the scenes of their operations. Horses and drivers are tinder contract, and cost the city about $8,800 per annum. The entire cost of the department for the year 1883 was $54,000. Mr. Ashfield, who has taken an active and prominent part in all the measures which have contributed towards bringing the brigade to its present high degree of efficiency, is now in his seventy-third year, but is still as active and as fit for work—after forty-five years' service in the department—as most men of fifty. Since 1876, in consideration of his long and faithful services, the City Council has relieved him of that portion of his duties which necessitated his attendance with the brigade at fires. Mr. Ashfield has been a member of the Orange order for many years, and has been connected with the Irish Protestant Benevolent Society since its organization.

Donald Gibson, City Electrician, is a native of Glasgow, Scotland. He came out to Toronto In 1854. under an engagement with the Gas Company, with whom he remained eleven years. He then carried on a plumbing and gas-fitting business for several years, and in 1872, on the establishment of the electric fire-alarm system, accepted his present position. He was connected with the volunteer service for twenty-eight years, having joined the Queen's Own at the tune of Us organization. In 1867 he was transferred to the Artillery, in which he successively held the rank of lieutenant and captain, the latter for a period of thirteen years, until his retirement in 1884. He has had the honour of competing on four occasions at Wimbledon as a member of the Canadian team of marksmen.

Police Department.—The City of Toronto is singularly fortunate m its police force, which is composed of as line a body of men as may be seen in any similar corps in the world, and even perhaps in any military organization. The majority of them have, previous to their Canadian experience, served in the Royal Irish Constabulary, and as they are thus already individually well drilled and disciplined, the handling of the force, which is carried out on strictly military principles, becomes a comparatively easy matter. The physique of the men and their soldierly bearing evokes the admiration of all visitors to the city, and especially of those from the other side of the border, accustomed to the anything but martial-looking patrolmen of the American cities. The management of the force has been, since the year 1859, in the hands of three Commissioners, viz., the Police Magistrate, one of the Judges of the County Court and the Mayor. Previous to that tune it had been invested in the City Council, but the mismanagement and jobbery under this arrangement were so glaring that the Local Government interfered and instituted the regime which now prevails. The headquarters of the force are in the Central Police Station on Court Street, with four subsidiary stations in different quarters of the city. The present Commissioners are Col. G. I . Denison, who is also Police Magistrate, chairman ; Judge McDougall, of the County Court, and A. R. Boswell, Esq., Mayor. The Chief of Police 's Major Frank C. Draper, and the Deputy-Chief John Macpherson. The latter officer has had a life-long experience in police matters, and his selection for the position he holds was regarded on all hands as a most wise one. He is a native of Scotland, where he served for six years on the Edinburgh and Argyleshire police forces. He came to Canada in 1855. and was attached to the new city police, then just reorganized under the management of Chief Sherwood. Mr. Macpherson served two years in the police office, and was promoted in 1862 to the rank of Sergeant; in 1865 to that of Sergeant-Major, and in 1876 to the position of Deputy Chief!

As already stated, the Police Magistrate s Col. G. T. Denison, and the Clerk of the Court Mr. J. T. Nudel, who has held the position for many years, but has of late, in consequence of the increasing amount of business entailed by the growth of the city and its population, been assisted by Mr. M. J. Meyerfey. The latter gentleman .s a Hungarian, having been born at Buda-Pesth m 1848. He emigrated to the United States in 1862, and came thence to Canada in 1874. He was appointed to assist Mr. Nudel m 1877.

The five police stations distributed over the city are as follows:—No. 1, headquarters, Court Street, under the charge of W E. Stuart, Assistant Deputy-Chief of Police; No. 2, Agnes Street, between Yonge and Teraulay Streets, Inspector Wm. Ward; No. 3, St. Andrew's Market, Inspector R. Leith No. 4. Wilton Avenue, east of Parliament Street, Inspector David Archibald; No. 5. in the former Yorkv de Town Hall, Inspector Joseph Johnson.

Assistant Deputy-Chief Stuart is a native of County Leitrim, Ireland, and was connected with the force in that country for seven years. He came to Toronto m 1861, and soon after joined the force as a constable; passing successively through the grades of patrol-sergeant, sergeant, sergeant-major and inspector, he was finally appointed to his present position m May, 1884.

Inspector Win. Ward, of No. 2 Division, who is also drill-instructor to the force, was born in Devonshire, England. He is an old soldier, having seen ten years' service in the Coldstream Guards. He was with his regiment in the Crimea, and was present at the memorable siege of Sebastopol. In 1861, being then a sergeant in his old corps, he was sent to Canada to assist in drilling the volunteers. He landed at St. John, N.B., and was stationed for three months at Quebec and for some length of time in Montreal. He was then ordered to the western division of this Province, going from place to place to drill the militia forces. In 1864, Ins term of service having expired, he was recalled to England and received his discharge, but immediately returned to Canada, and m December of the same year joined the Toronto police force, then under Captain Pr nee. Like Inspector Stuart he was rapidly promoted, and in 1876 received his inspectorship. Mr. Ward has been in charge of the police-drill since he joined the force, and is the author of a work on that subject.

Inspector David Archibald, of No. 4 Division, is a native of Tipperary. After serving for over four years in the Royal Irish Constabulary he came to Canada in 1865, and joined the city force in October of that year. Two years later he obtained special promotion to the rank of patrol-sergeant; was made sergeant in 1872, sergeant-major in 1876, and inspector in 1878. He has had charge of No. 4 station since 1877. Inspector Archibald is well known as a zealous and earnest worker on behalf of the temperance cause, his services in connection with which have been recognized by his fellow-workers by his election this year as lay representative at the first United Conference.

Inspector Joseph Johnson, of No. 5 Division, was born in 1842, near Armagh, Ireland. He came to Toronto in 1867, and in March, 1874, joined the Yorkville police force, of which he became chief constable two months later. He continued to hold this position until the annexation of Yorkville to the city in 1883, and was appointed inspector for that district in May of the following year.

The Detective Force consists of the following members:—John New-hall, chief; detectives, John Hodgins, John Reid, Stuart Burrows, Edward Brown, Henry Reburn and Philip Sheahan. The detectives' headquarters are also in the Police Court building, of which James Woods is caretaker. The latter is a native of County Down, Ireland; he came to Canada in 1873, and was appointed to his present position in 1876.

Gas Works.—The gas supply of the city, although not strictly coining under the head of City Government, may be dealt with in this place, inasmuch as the relations of the city with the Gas Company are under the control of one of the committees of the City Council.

The Consumers' Gas Company, which supplies all the gas used in the city, has its headquarters on the North side of Front Street East, the works and offices occupying a considerable area of ground on either side of Parliament Street. It also has an office for the convenience of the public at 19 Toronto Street. The company was formed in 1847, but it was seven years previous to this that gas was first introduced in the city. A movement with this object in view was set on foot in 1839, when a joint committee of citizens and members of the City Council was appointed to enquire into the feasibility of the scheme. It was not intended, of course, to light the whole city with gas, but merely the business portion; and that rather as an experiment than as a permanent arrangement. Upon the recommendation of the committee the Council despatched Mr. Cull, a civil engineer, to Moritreal, in order to obtain information as to the practicability of the scheme. From Mr. Furniss, a gentleman largely interested in the gas works in that city, Mr. Cull received much assistance, and finally the former made an offer to supply the City of Toronto with the light it required for £7,500. At the same time other tenders were received from different quarters. These oilers were submitted to a public meeting of citizens, at which Mr. Furniss was present by special invitation and entered into a full explanation of the necessary details. The upshot of the matter was that a private company was formed by Mr. Furniss, and the Council granted a site in the eastern end of the city for the erection of works. The following year the works were in operation, but on a limited scale only. In 1841 the company undertook the duty of supplying the city with water as well as with gas, and was incorporated under the style of "The Toronto Water and Gas Light Company." Its operations in the matter of gas could not have been very extensive, as it only had twelve lamps to supply, and the quantity of gas manufactured in its first year was less than lour million cubic feet. In 1845 the company entered into a twenty-one years' contract with the Corporation, undertaking to light the streets at £6 13s. 4d. per light per annum, and to bear the expense of erecting the lamps and keeping them in order.. Not very long after this Mr. Furniss became sole proprietor of the works, and in 1847 he sold out to the present company. The twelve lamp? and four million feet of gas of 1841 have since increased to 2,540 public and private lamps, and nearly two hundred and forty million feet of gas per annum, with 110 miles of main pipes, supplying 5,000 consumers. The present price of gas is from $1.25 to $1.60 per thousand cubic feet, which is in marked contrast to the $5 which consumers were charged in 1848.

Mr. W. H. Pearson, sen'r, secretary of the Company, has been connected with that organization for the last thirty years. He is a native of London, England, and came to Canada with his parents in 1834, and to Toronto in 1839. For seven years he held a clerkship in the Post-office, the stalf of which at that time consisted of the Postmaster, three clerks and one can er. He subsequently entered the employment of the Gas Company as chief clerk, and in 1874 was appointed secretary—a position which is virtually that of manager. Mr. Pearson has been for many years a valued and esteemed member of the Richmond Street Methodist Church, and has devoted much attention to the Sunday School in connection with that congregation, having been class-leader for twenty-nine, and superintendent for twenty-seven, years. Pearson, W. H. Pearson, jun'r, holds the position of Superintendent of Works in the company which Mr. Pearson manages.

F. B. Whittemore, chief clerk since 1874, Toronto-born, and has been in the employment of the Company since 1864.


Return to Book Index Page

This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus