Sunday 21 April 2013

The American Occupation of the Town of York Tour, Muddy York Tours, Toronto, ON

This afternoon Gord and I did the two hour The American Occupation of the Town of York tour, led by Richard Fiennes-Clinton of Muddy York Tours.

We'll wander the streets of the Old Town District, to talk about some of the townspeople who played a role during the Battle of York.

John Strachan was one of the town's civilians who helped to negotiate a surrender of the Town of York. All the Americans would go on to pillage, plunder and burn the town during the occupation. Strachan helped to prevent even worse attrocities.

As rector of York's Anglican Church of St. James, Strachan oversaw many of the burials that took place in the aftermath of the battle. The church was both looted and damaged by Americans and used as a hospital in the treatment of the wounded.

William Allan was one of the richest merchants in York at the time of the invasion. He was also an officer in the York militia and a government official. Like other members of York's elite, Allan's home in town was raided by Americans on the pretext that he was a government representative.

William Warren Baldwin was a “jack of all trades” in early York and had degrees in both medicine and law. He was also an amateur architect, politician and merchant. He tended to the injured on the battlefield.

William Campbell, John Beverley Robinson and William Powell were all legal figures in York. They all participated in the “Bloody Assize”, where a number of men accused for treason were hanged for giving aid and comfort to the American enemy.

As we wander through the old Town of York, we will see where these figures lived 200 years ago. Our visit will end at the site of the parliament buildings in York, which were torched by the invading Americans.

We started the tour at the corner of Yonge Street/Front Street W.

Hard to believe that the harbour used to come up this far ... where the Sony Centre and condos now are.

We headed east along Front Street E to Berczy Park where Richard told us the story of John Ewart, who came to York after the War of 1812.  He was significant in designing many of the buildings after, including the third Parliament Buildings.

We walked by the Gooderham (Flatiron) Building ...

We walked to St. James Cathedral on King Street E, which is the home of the oldest congregation in the city (the parish was established in 1797) ... this version was completed in 1853.

The burial ground used to be next door ... but most of the bodies have been relocated to the nearby St. James Cemetery.

There are still almost 200 bodies still buried to the side of the cathedral, though.  When cholera was running rampant in 1832-34, they buried people in a mass grave ... and they are still there today.

A couple hundred years ago there was a red light district next to the church (now part of the park).  You could hire a woman for her services for four cents.

William Campbell (1758 – 1834), a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Upper Canada, and his wife are buried right here.

As we walked along King Street W, there are lots of  historical plaques.

The site of this building used to be a school ... the current building was a hotel.  When it was a school, John Strachan, who not only headed the only church in York, taught. Strachan was key in negotiating the surrender of York after General Sheaffe left with all the troops and was instrumental in the return of many goods stolen during the invasion.

We walked down Nicholson Lane and came across this cool old building.

The tour ended at Berkeley Street/Front Street E, next to the Parliament Interpretive Centre, where the original Parliament buildings were (which the Americans burnt down in 1813).

What a nice day to be out walking around!

It was an interesting tour with lots of great information!

1 comment:

Masshole Mommy said...

I LOVE stuff like this.