Nicholas Flood Davin in his “Irishmen in Canada,” P. 287-294 says :
“I am now about to speak of one of the most interesting episodes in the history of emigration” an episode which can only find a parallel in another little Irish quasi-aristocratic exodus, an account of which will be given in another chapter.
From Kinsale, where early in the seventeenth century the last of the independent Irish chieftains, O’Neill and O’Donnell, were overthrown, and a thousand of their followers having fallen before the swords of the Lord Deputy’s Horse, lay the stark emblems of a lost cause within reach of the roar of the whitening billows of the upbraiding seawhere James II., landed in 1689 and was received by the Roman Catholic population with shouts of unfeigned joywhich fell after a gallant resistence before the all conquering sword of Marlborough, who with his usual skill in improving a victory had, on the fall of Cork, hurried on to the fort which of all others was most important from the point of view of French and to the Irish. From this historic spot four young gentlemen started just three quarters of a century ago, (1826) to seek their fortunes in Canada.
Lawrence Heyden was only sixteen years of age. He and his school fellows, John and William Warren, and Callagham Holmes, with their hired man, Pat Deashy, took passage in a brig, The Grace of Ilfracombe, determined to follow in the distant colony “agricultural and a farming business.” In due time they touched the shores of Quebec. They lingered in the historic city to visit the fortifications and the Falls of Montmorency. They then proceeded up the river and lake to York, where the Warrens, being related to the family of Dr. Baldwin, that generous and good man, gave the young adventurers an Irish welcome. They at once set about obtaining information, and at length decided to settle in Whitby (Township). Prudence dictated that they should not commit themselves too deeply. They purchased a lot conjointly, one hundred acres in the third concession of Whitby, upon which they at once settled. Scarcely had they entered on their land when they heard Pat Deashy shouting, “0 Master William ! 0 Master John ! Come here ! Come here !” Hastening to whence the shouts came they found Pat looking up into a high tree on which were three bears, the mother and two large cubs. Heyden despatched them with his gun. One of them caught in a fork of the branches. There was nothing for it but to leave part of their prize behind them or fell the tree. They set to work and in due time the tree shuddered and shook its lofty cone, and, with what the ancients would have regarded as a groan, fell. The bears were skinned and for several winters Heyden wore a cap made from the pelt of the old bear. They were the first Irishmen to settle in that section of the country and were known as the “Four Irishmen.”
After a time they foundmere youths that they were and gently nurturedthe task they had undertaken to onerous . . . . the poor young adventurers cooked their own meals, made their own bread, mended their own clothing and did their own washing. Their ignorance of farming was very great. The following incident of their cooking is worth relating. For a long time it was their custom to take alternate Christmases at Toronto, when they were entertained by Dr. Baldwin. Once when the two holidaymakers returned to Whitby they found the edges of their razors hopelessly blunt. On enquiring the cause they learned that the two who had remained at home had killed a pig and instead of taking the bristles off in the usual way, by scalding, had shaved them off with the razor. At length heartily tired of the “agricultural and farming business” the Warrens sold out their interest to Mr. Heyden, as did Mr. Holmes. The Warrens opened a store near what is to-day the town of Whitby.” (The Warrens opened a store in 1828 at Hamar’s Corners, one mile east of Whitby).
Theirs was the only store between Port Hope and Toronto. They also conducted the first Post Office at that point. In 1836 the Warrens exchanged their property, since owned and occupied by Mr. Jeremiah Lick for a farm of 200 acres within the present corporation of the town of Oshawa and known as the North East Ward. This farm was obtained from John Kerr, in 1829, by Mr. James Hall, father of the late T. C. Hall, landing waiter for Port Oshawa with whom the Warrens affected the exchange spoken of. The brothers soon separated; John opened a store in Oshawa. He built a mill, and assisted materially in laying the foundation for the growth and development of a flourishing town. His brother William became Collector of Customs at Whitby Harbor. The duties of his post he discharged in a very satisfactory manner until the year 1876, when he was superannuated.
“Callaghan Holmes died of cholera on his way to Ireland in 1838. Pat Deashy remained only a short time with Heyden, after he was left alone. Pat went to Buffalo, where he soon died. Heyden sold his lot and purchased another, and sold this, and opened a store on the Kingston road. In 1830 he married Barbara Sullivan, a niece of Dr. Baldwin.”
In 1840 Heyden devoted himself to the study of classics and was entered as a student at Law; . In 1845 he removed to Toronto and took charge of the landed estates of the Messrs. Baldwin and their children; In 1850 he was appointed Clerk of the Crown and Pleas, Court of Common Pleas ; In 1868 he died at his residence, Bloor St., Toronto, having played many parts, and played them successfully. “Mr. Heyden seems to have had decided opinions on religious and political questions. In religion he was a Roman Catholic and as such was the first to settle in South Ontario.”
Reverting to a further history of J. B. Warren it may fairly be said of him that he was the first man in Oshawa to display that peculiar genius for business which makes for the progress and stability of any town. His first business venture after leaving the farm, Lot 18, 3rd Con., 2 Whitby, was in 1828 at Hamar’s Corners from where he moved to the farm of Mr. Lick, Lot No. 19, Tp. Whitby, and on the hill there opened a store and Post Office. The mails were then carried from Kingston to Toronto on the back of a mule. The splendid water power at the old grist mill in the hollow near Oshawa had for several years attracted the attention of J. B. Warren. It was located on the old Kerr farm which since 1829 was occupied by Mr. James Hall, who it appears was entirely absorbed in the pursuit of agriculture. John McGrigor, who from 1812 had lived on the 200 acre farm, a King’s College Lot in the South-. West ward of Oshawa, had by this time conceived the idea that a town was likely to spring up in this locality and was also bending his energies to promote that, which he thought to be a desirable issue. Mrs. Clarke, Rebecca McGrigor, a daughter, personally told the writer that she remembered well having heard her father urge Hall to divide his farm into town lots, a proposition which was always resisted by him on the ground that a dense population would interfere with the security of his crop. Jno. B. Warren had been endeavoring to exchange his farm with Hall, and McGrigor anxious to bring about the transaction, arranged at his house one evening in 1837 for a meeting of the parties interested. It was here that the bargain was struck and J. B. Warren moved into Oshawa, and at once set about the building of a store on the corner now occupied by the Dominion Bank. The grist mill in the hollow was also erected by him. A stone over the door at the south entrance bears date 1837. A distillery, immediately to the north of the mill, and an ashery, where pearl ash and potash were manufactured, were constructed by him on the site now occupied by the Canning Factory. He first lived in the house lately owned by ex-Mayor W. J. Hare. It stood in those days directly east of the mill on the ground now used as Mechanic St. but was afterwards moved back to its present location. At a later date he built a palatial residence in Prospect Park and laid out the grounds, which in 1865 fell into the hands of Mr. W. H. Gibbs, by whom they were further improved and beautified, and at one time was said to be the most handsome residence and grounds to be found in the Province of Ontario. When Mr. Gibbs removed to Toronto, these grounds were sold to Col. Mulligan, of Winnipeg, who died here in 1902. The property was then taken over by ex-Mayor E. S. Edmondson, and by him converted into a semi-public Park. During the year 1915 Mr. R. S. McLaughlin purchased the estate, demolished the old homestead, re-modelled the grounds, and built the palatial residence now known as Parkwood. J. B. Warren was the first manager of the Ontario Bank, and as such he became deeply entangled in the endorsation of paper for the purchase of wheat, and, as a consequence, his many industrial concerns fell into the hands of creditors from whom they were purchased by the late Hon. T. N. Gibbs, in 1865. At which date he retired from all business pursuits and resided with his daughter, Louisa M. Grierson, where he died February 23, 1879.