Web exhibits

Toronto in 1834

In celebration of the 175th anniversary of the City of Toronto in 2009, the Archives and Museums & Heritage Services created this exhibit exploring what the capital of Upper Canada was like in 1834.

 

Toronto in 1834 Owen P. Staples (1866-1949) 1907 Oil on canvas, 121.5 x 304.5 cm. City of Toronto Art Collection, Cultural Services
Toronto in 1834
Owen P. Staples (1866-1949)
1907
Oil on canvas, 121.5 x 304.5 cm.
City of Toronto Art Collection, Cultural Services

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Maps of Toronto 1834
J.G. Chewett (1834)

On April 22, 1834, Council agreed to petition His Excellency Sir John Colborne, Lieutenant Governor, to arrange to have a plan drawn up of the new City of Toronto, its liberties, and its harbour, showing its division into wards and the relative connection of its limits with adjacent township lands.

Plan of the City of Toronto and Liberties J.G. Chewett 1834 City of Toronto Archives MT 401
Plan of the City of Toronto and Liberties
J.G. Chewett
1834
City of Toronto Archives
MT 401

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Samuel Proudfoot Hurd, Surveyor General, was duly placed in charge of the request, and James Grant Chewett of his office was assigned the actual task of preparing the plan. The completed plan, dated June 24, 1834, was presented to Council July 3, 1834. The plan above is a copy of the original prepared by Wadsworth & Unwin, Provincial Land Surveyors, and dated April 1, 1871.

The Act of Incorporation extended boundaries of the old Town of York to Bathurst Street in the west, Parliament in the east, a line 400 yards north of Queen Street in the north and the lake in the south.


E.G.A Foster (ca. 1934)
 

City of Toronto in 1834 E.G.A. Foster ca. 1934 City of Toronto Archives MT 00063
City of Toronto in 1834
E.G.A. Foster
ca. 1934
City of Toronto Archives
MT 00063

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This imaginative rendering of the City of Toronto in 1834 was probably created to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the City's incorporation in 1934.

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Toronto's First By-law
 

City of Toronto By-Law number 1 1834 City of Toronto Archives Series 755, File 1
City of Toronto
By-Law number 1
1834
City of Toronto Archives
Series 755, File 1

Toronto’s first by-law, described as “an Act for the preventing & extinguishing of Fires”, was passed on May 10, 1834.

Intended to reduce the risk of fire in a city largely constructed of wood, the by-law specified building requirements, regulated or prohibited hazardous activities such as the disposal of combustible materials, and defined the responsibilities of fire inspectors and wardens, fire companies, and citizens in preventing and fighting fires.


Toronto's First Council

 

Journals of the Common Council 1834 City of Toronto Archives Series 1080, File 1
Journals of the Common Council
1834
City of Toronto Archives
Series 1080, File 1


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The Journals of the Common Council provide the fullest record of the activities of Council for the year 1834.

Likely compiled by the Deputy Clerk, the journals contain not only a copy of the Council minutes, but also the text of nearly every committee report presented to Council.

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Contemporary Views of Toronto in 1834
 

Third Parliament Buildings
John Howard, 1834

Third Parliament Buildings, 1834 J.G. Howard 1834 City of Toronto Toronto Culture, Museums and Heritage Services 1978.41.30.
Third Parliament Buildings, 1834
J.G. Howard
1834
City of Toronto
Toronto Culture, Museums and Heritage Services
1978.41.30.
"The large handsome brick buildings, now nearly completed, immediately opposite the lake, reflect the greatest credit on those engaged in their erection. These buildings are intended for the sittings of the Houses of Assembly, and the legislative body; and also for the occupation of some of the public offices."

Excerpt from: George Henry, The Emigrant’s Guide, or Canada As It Is (Quebec, 183?) pp.101-17


North side of King Street, Toronto to Church Streets
John Howard, 1835

The Old Gaol, Fireman’s Hall built by Mr J.G. Howard, on Church Street in 1834 J.G. Howard 1835 City of Toronto Toronto Culture, Museums and Heritage Services 1978.41.40.[1970.114.19A]
The Old Gaol, Fireman’s Hall built by Mr J.G. Howard, on Church Street in 1834
J.G. Howard
1835
City of Toronto
Toronto Culture, Museums and Heritage Services
1978.41.40.[1970.114.19A]
“In the cells below the ground floor, your committee found three female lunatics confined...in such a noisome place, will be likely to aggravate the disorder...were they taken to a particular ward in the Hospital, and the usual restraints put upon their persons, (of strait waistcoats,) and gently treated, might either wholly recover their reason, or at least become convalescent.”

Excerpt from: Report on the Petition of the Prisoners in York Gaol, Upper Canada House of Assembly, Journals, 1830,
Appendix p. 162.

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King and York Streets, looking east along King
John Howard, 1834

King and York Streets, looking east along King J.G. Howard 1834 City of Toronto Toronto Culture, Museums and Heritage Services 1978.41.61.[1970.113.19A]

King and York Streets, looking east along King
J.G. Howard
1834
City of Toronto
Toronto Culture, Museums and Heritage Services
1978.41.61.[1970.113.19A]
“There are a great number of stores in York, and some of them are really elegant, and well supplied with the choicest wares manufactured in Europe...  such as paper makers, hatters, parchment makers, potteries, and many other branches”

Excerpt from: George Henry, The Emigrant’s Guide, or Canada As It Is (Quebec, 183?) pp. 101-17


Taylor's Wharf
John Howard, 1835

 

Taylor's Wharf J.G. Howard 1835 City of Toronto Toronto Culture, Museums and Heritage Services 1978.41.51.
Taylor's Wharf
J.G. Howard
1835
City of Toronto
Toronto Culture, Museums and Heritage Services
1978.41.51.
"It should seem that this wintry season, which appears to me so dismal, is for the Canadians the season of festivity… Now is the time for visiting, for sleighing excursions, for all intercourse of business and friendship, for balls in town, and dances in farm-houses, and courtships and marriages, and prayer-meetings and assignations of all sorts. In summer, the heat and the mosquitos render travelling disagreeable at best; in spring the roads are absolutely impassible; in autumn there is too much agricultural occupation: but in winter the forests are pervious; the roads present a smooth surface of dazzling snow”

Excerpt from: Anna Brownell Jameson, Winter Studies and Summer Rambles in Canada (London: Saunders and Ottley, 1838)
Vol. 1, p. 21

For more information regarding the watercolours, plans and maps produced by the city's first surveyor, John Howard, please see the Market Gallery's virtual exhibit.

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