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History of Toronto and County of York in Ontario
Part III: Town of Newmarket


NEWMARKET is the only town in the County of York, and is a place of historical and commercial importance. It is situated in the Township of Whitchurch, close to the northern boundary, and a short distance east of Yonge Street. It is about twenty-eight miles from Toronto, with which it has communication by the Northern Railway. Newmarket became a centre of trade at a comparatively early period. The foundation of its prosperity was laid by Elisha Beaman, who came here from New York State in 1806, and-established mills and stores. Other pioneers of industry were Mordecai Millard, who, about the same time, built mills upon a branch of the Holland River, and Joseph Hill, who started a tannery. A great impetus was given to its growth by the advent of Peter Robinson, who purchased a mill n 1812, and went extensively into business. In 1814, according to the testimony of one of the early settlers, there were two frame and several log buildings in the village. Mr. Robinson occupied one of the frame houses, and Timothy Millard, who was in his employ as miller, the other. Mr. Robinson afterwards became one of the representatives of York and Simcoe in the Provincial Parliament, and was appointed Commissioner of Crown Lands :n 1827. His brother, W. B. Robinson, also resident in Newmarket, attained Parliamentary honours likewise. The Robinsons were famous for their open-handed hospitality. Among the distinguished guests whom they entertained were Sir John Franklin, Sir John Ross and Captain Jack, the Arctic explorers. Their old time residence was one of the landmarks of the village until carried away by a freshet in 1878. The convenience of doing their trading at Newmarket, instead of taking their produce to York to exchange it for supplies, was appreciated by the settlers in the neighbourhood. As trade sprang up, the name of "Newmarket" gradually came into use as an appropriate designation for this outpost of traffic.

One of the earliest settlers, who survived until a recent period, was William Roe, who, for over forty years, was postmaster of the village. Mr. Roe was born at Detroit, while it was in the possession of the British, his father being an Englishman from London. When in pursuance of treaty stipulations, Detroit was handed over to the Americans, it was Mr. Roe, sen'r, who officially delivered the key of the fort to the officer of the United States deputed to receive it. He and his family afterwards removed to Windsor, where he died. John Loughton, Mr. Roe's maternal grandfather, as a naval officer took an important part in the capture of Quebec. In 1807 William Roe came to York. During the war of 1812, he was instrumental in concealing from the invading American force, under General Dearborn and Commodore Chauncey, a large portion of the contents of the public treasury. He was at that time employed in the office of the Receiver-General, and by the order of the Government he buried three bags of gold and a quantity of army-bills, on the farm of Chief justice Robinson, on the Kingston Road. The enemy afterwards-secured the bills, but the gold was safely restored to the authorities by Mr. Roe when the Americans had withdrawn. He also removed the iron chest of the Receiver-General's office to the house of Donald McLean, Clerk of the Assembly. The latter was killed in battle, and his house plundered, about one thousand silver dollars being taken from the chest.

After the war, Mr. Roe removed to Newmarket, where, hi partnership with Andrew Borland, he was engaged for many years in the fur trade. The Indians at that time came to Newmarket in large numbers to exchange their peltries for supplies. These parties sometimes numbered as many as three or four hundred, and the value and extent of the trade may be realized from the fact that sometimes Messrs. Roe and Borland obtained furs at one time amounting to fifty thousand dollars. Mr. Roe died 1 April, 1879, at-the age of eighty-four.

Mr. Andrew Borland, who was associated with hiin in the fur trade, was in active ser\*ice during the war of 1812. He was made prisoner by the Americans when York was taken in 1813, but his capture was not effected before he had received six wounds, the results of which he continued to experience for the remainder of his life. He also participated in the-battles of Queenston and Detroit. The Loyal and Patriotic Society of Upper Canada, at a meeting held on the 11th of June, 1813, voted him a donation of sixty dollars, in the words of the report, "for his patriotic and eminent services at Detroit, Queenston and York, at which latter place lie was severely wounded." The petition to the society requesting this grant to be made was presented by D'Arcy Boulton, in whose employment Mr. Borland had been. The latter afterwards received a pension of twenty pounds a year. The troubles of 1837-8 found Mr. Borland still ready to take up arms in defence of his country. He was placed in command of two hundred Indians, who were stationed at Holland Landing, but their services were not needed. Mr. Borland had a thorough knowledge of the Indian character, as well as of the language of the neighbouring tribes, and had acquired considerable influence over them.

Another of the more conspicuous names among the early settlers is that of Mr. John Cawthra, who, with his brother Jonathan, was at the front during the War of 1812, and was engaged at Queenston and Detroit. He was subsequently in business at Newmarket for a considerable time, and was elected Member of Parliament.

Newmarket was one of the centres of the agitation against the Family Compact, which preceded the insurrection of 1837. The first of the series of public meetings held by Mr. Mackenzie throughout the country, in pursuance of his scheme for organizing the Reformers of Upper Canada, was held here on the 3rd of August, 1837. After Mr. Mackenzie had spoken for an hour and a-half, resolutions were passed approving of the Toronto Declaration of Independence, and declaring that the constitution was "continually violated and trampled upon by the Executive, and countenanced by the Colonial Office and the English Parliament." The resolutions also pledged the meeting to abstain, as far as possible, from the consumption of articles upon which a duty was imposed, and to unite with the Lower Canadians, whose cause was declared to be the cause of Upper Canada, "in ever practicable measure for the maintenance of civil and religious liberty. ' Delegates were appointed to the convention which it was proposed to hold in Toronto. These were Samuel Lount, afterwards executed for his participation in the rising; Nelson Gorham, who was also involved, and who sought refuge for a long time in the United States ; Silas Fletcher, another refugee; Jeremiah Graham, and John Mcintosh, M.P.P. The latter, although committed to the insurrection, was never called to account for his participation in the preliminary movements. The Newmarket meeting resulted in the formation of a political association and a vigilance committee. At Lount's suggestion, three cheers for Papineau and the Lower Canadian Reformers were given, and when Lieutenant Carthew, an ex-officer of the British army, called on those opposed to Papineau to separate themselves by moving to the right, he was followed by only two persons.

Newmarket in 1851 was described by W. H. Smith, in his "Canada: Past, Present and Future," as "a considerable village, containing nearly eight hundred inhabitants. It has been long settled, and to tell the truth, it has rather an old-fashioned look about it. It is divided into two distinct positions, at some little distance from each other. The east branch of the Holland River runs through the village, and two grist mills are erected on.

There are also in Newmarket a foundry, tannery and brewery; seven churches: Episcopal, Presbyterian, Congregational, Wesleyan-Methodist, Baptist, Christian, and Roman Catholic; a court-house and a grammar-school. Newmarket is situated in a line section of country, and is surrounded by excellent farms."

The first Episcopal church in Newmarket was built in 1834. It was an unpretentious frame structure, to which, some time afterwards, a school room and two transepts were added. The first clergyman to hold service in this church was the Rev. Mr. Williams, who was followed by the Rev. (now Canon) Ritchie. Both of these were travelling missionaries. Rev. Robert Taylor was the first incumbent of the church. His successor was the Rev. George Street. In 1848 Rev. Canon Ramsay became incumbent, and continued in charge for twenty-four years, during which period Aurora and Holland Landing were made distinct missions, and Newmarket became a parish. In 1873 Rev. Dr. Tremayne succeeded to the pastoral office, and on his resignation the Rev. Canon Givins temporarily supplied the vacancy for a year. The Rev. H. B. Owen was appointed incumbent in June, 1879. The present rector, the Rev. Albert W. Spragge succeeded him May, 1882. The old frame building was demolished in the summer of 1883 in order to make way for the erection of a substantial stone edifice in its place. On the 26th June, 1884, fifty years after the building of the old church, the corner-stone of the new structure of St. Paul's Church was laid in the presence of a large assemblage by Miss Rosamond Mulock, assisted by the church officers, in accordance with the customary ceremonies observed by the Church of England. Addresses were delivered by: the Rev. W. W. Bates, Thornhill, Mr. Clark, of Bolton, the Rev. Albert W. Spragge, rector of the Church, William Mulock, M.P., Lieutenant Armstrong, of King, and others. The new church will be a handsome building, with sitting accommodation for three hundred people in the nave.

Newmarket possesses a flourishing Mechanics' Institute, which was incorporated in 1856. It has thirty-five members, and 828 volumes in the hbrary, the number of volumes issued last business year being 810. It has received since 1869 Government grants amounting to $721. There are two excellent weekly journals published in the town—the Newmarket lint and the North York Reformer—the latter, as the name implies, being an exponent of Liberal views, while the former, though of similar tendencies, is non-partisan.

The town was formerly embraced within the Parliamentary constituency of North York for Dominion as well as Pro\incial electoral purposes, but the Dominion re-distribution measure of 1882 detached it from that Riding, and constituted it, together with Whitchurch Township and the Village of Stouffville, a portion of West Ontario.

The incorporation of Newmarket as a village took place in 1857. The following were the first officials:—Donald Sutherland, reeve ; George H. Bache, E. Jackson, William Roe and William Wallis, councillors ; Edwin P. Irwin, clerk, and William Trent, treasurer. In 1880, Newmarket was incorporated as a town with three wards: St. George's, St. Andrew's and St. Patrick's. The officials for 1884 are as follows :—William Crane, mayor ; Erastus Jackson, reeve; Thomas H. Lloyd, deputy-reeve; H. S. Crane, Nelson Johnson, B. T. Reesor, T. G. Robertson, John Eves, Dr. Stanley Scott, John II. Millard, William Bowden and John Gascoigne, councillors; David Lloyd, town clerk and treasurer. The population was 1,760 according to the census of 1871—in 1881 it had increased to 2,006. Among the prominent architectural features of the town is the high school, which is a handsome brick building, situated in a conspicuous position upon a hill. Mr. J. E. Dickson, B.A., of Toronto University, is head-master. It has a favourable reputation for thoroughness and efficiency, and many of its graduates have attained leading positions in the country.

The Model or Public School consists of a large one-story frame building with three wings, furnishing accommodation for the Principal, William Rannie, and three assistants, George Rose, Annie Birnie, and Jennie Fidell. There is also a Model Class Room, where students-in-training receive instruction. The spacious grounds are much improved by plank walks and bower-beds in front of the building and shade trees. The average attendance here is about 150.

The Primary, conducted by Miss Johnston, is a good frame building in the western part of the town, with an average of about forty pupils in the first two books.


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