Port Hope, Canada – 1813 And In 1826

DESCRIPTIONS of Port Hope as it appeared in 1813 and in 1826 have been handed down to the present day and, in placing them before the readers of this book, it was considered as probably the best mode of tracing the growth of the Town, if its aspect at various dates were portrayed consecutively. Already a glimpse of the primitive town has been afforded and now its appearance at two subsequent dates will be detailed.

To a traveller approaching Smith’s Creek from the Lake in the year 1813, the most prominent structure to attract his eye would be the Smith Homestead on the Point. The Point, it may be explained, is the piece of land abutting on the Lake at the foot of King Street and the Homestead stood about where the last house on the east side of the street now stands. The house, which was the first frame structure to be erected between Belleville and Toronto, was built by Peter Smith, the son of Elias Smith, in 1797. The building faced the west and, if all accounts are true, it was completely partitioned off into two portions. Its dimensions were about twenty-five feet by thirty feet and it possessed an upper story. Prior to its occupation by Elias Smith and his family in 1798 it was used as a store and school-house. Mr. Smith had sent up from Montreal a young man named Collins with a supply of goods and this same young man kept the first store and taught the first school in Port Hope. Besides being the earliest school-house and store in the Town, the old place may be said to have been the first farm-house in the Township of Hope.

The next buildings to meet the traveller’s gaze would he the grist and saw-mills, already mentioned as being built on the east side of the creek at the end of what is now Helm’s dam. Between these mills and the Smith house, on the Flats, was an ashery. On the west side of the dam were Paul Hayward’s clothing-works and a little to the north James Hawkin’s blacksmith shop. ” Uncle Jim,” as he was familiarly called, was the genius of the place, of whom more will be written later on. Suffice it to note that his shop contained the first trip-hammer in the province and was also supplied with bellows and grinding stone, enabling the clever mechanic to turn out everything from a needle to an anchor.

Herchimere’s trading-post still occupied its old site, though no longer used for commercial purposes. On what is now Mill Street, Jeremiah Britton had a store and residence and, on top of the hill, in the neighborhood of Mr. Hoffman’s residence, stood ” Uncle Nick’s ” log-cabin. On the side of the hill at the foot of Walton Street rose the old timber malt-house, in the upper story of which dwelt Mr. Rufus Burr.

A rude bridge spanned the creek where now stands the Walton Street Bridge. A freshet had recently cut out a new channel to the eastward and another bridge had been thrown over it. A little to the south a verdant island divided the waters of the stream.

On the north side of Walton Street were two buildings, one of which was the Town Hall and the other the old log school-house opposite what is now the Queen’s Hotel. On the south side of the road at a point about the rear of the same hotel, stood the most aristocratic mansion of the place. This was a building eighteen feet by thirty-five and a story and a half in height, built by Mr. Joseph Caldwell in 1802 and subsequently kept by him as the first hotel in Smith’s Creek. In the rear of what is now Curtis’ grocery store, ” Uncle Jim ” had built the famous Red Tavern in 1803. He manufactured all the nails, door-hinges and latches required in its construction, erected the chimneys, plastered the walls and finally became the landlord.

These scattered buildings comprised the Village of Smith’s Creek in 1813. It is probable that there were other buildings but those enumerated, as being the most important, were probably all that the historian could recall.* To .them must be added the homes of the settlers in the neighborhood, who for all practical purposes formed a portion of the population.

During the period from 1813 to 1826, there was a marked growth in the Town and the number of buildings comprising the corporation was largely increased. While none of the structures of the earlier date are still in existence, several of those standing in 1826, yet remain to testify to the skill of their builders.

Commencing at the Point and passing up King Street, four important buildings were to be found on the east side of the road. The Smith Homestead still occupied its old site at the foot of the street. On the vacant lot to the south of Mr. Thomas Neeland’s house, stood ” the most beautifully picturesque residence ” of the place—that of M. F. Whitehead, Esq., Collector of Customs. B igher up the hill rose the most prominent structure in Port Hope, St. John’s Church (now St. Mark’s), which had been erected within the preceding four years. Lastly where H. A. Ward, Esq., M.P. now resides, stood the village School House.

The only other residences on Protestant Hill t were the homes of Messrs. Henderson, Hatton, Riordan and Mitchell, while a portion of the house now occupied by James Craick, Esq., formed the residence of Postmaster David Smart.

Passing down to Mill Street and about on the site of Mill Street Presbyterian Church stood the store and post-office of Mr. Smart. South from this and on the slope of the hill the old log malt-house still remained. To the south again stood the present Royal Hotel, the first brick structure in Port Hope, erected in 1823* by J. Brown and occupied in 1826 by ” Uncle Mark ” Hewson. South again were the stores of Jacobs, watchmaker, Orton, auctioneer and Stevens, hatter. J. D. Smith’s red store and residence occupied the site of Record’s pump factory. Across the way were the grist and saw-mills and a little farther down towards the Lake were two small houses.

Queen Street was the manufacturers’ thoroughfare. At the Toronto Bank Corner, Thum had a blacksmith shop. Along the east side of the street at the dam were Hawkin’s blacksmith shop, Hayward’s wool-carding factory, MetcalPs chair-bottom factory and Downey’s cut-nail works. On the west side of the street were Robertson’s residence and tannery, Smith’s distillery on the site of Helm’s Foundry, the residence store and distillery of John Brown, Esq., south of the present British Hotel and the Sculthorpe homestead just east of the Drill Shed.

On the south side of Walton Street between the Creek and the railway-crossing were Sawyer & Phelp’s store, a tailor shop, Robertson’s wooden stores, Wm. Brogdin’s residence and Wm. Rosebury’s tavern. Between the railway and John Street were a store and Walker’s Tavern. On the site of the Opera House Block was the fanning-mill of Thomas Harper and where the St. Lawrence Hall now rises stood the residence and store of John Cundle, the first butcher. Then came a small house with the Red Tavern in its rear. To the east of Dr. Power’s residence stood a little house known as the ” Sparrow’s Nest.” Where Peter Robertson Esq. now resides the home of T. T. Orton was built and on the site of James Robertson’s house lived Old Shoemaker Smith.

The north side of Walton Street was taken up by the houses of Messrs. Mark Burnham, John Hewson and John Saxon, the latter’s residence being erected on the site now occupied by B. P. Ross, Esq.’s house. Where the Tempest Block now stands a group of wooden houses were being erected by Wm. Brogdin.

The first building on Cavan Street was Fowke’s distillery. Where Craig’s tannery now stands, Smart’s distillery was in operation and on the site of the File Factory rose Brown’s Mills.

On John Street Mr. Lee lived in a house in the vicinity of Oke’s present store. Across the street were the residence and tannery of William Sisson. Farther south and on the east side lived Mr. Thum, the blacksmith. Where Charles Smith, Esq. now lives stood the Haywards’ house and ” Aunt Betsy, ” widow of Elias Smith, Jun. , lived on the site of the Grand Trunk Station.

This completes the enumeration of Port Hope’s buildings in 1826. The general outline is doubtless correct but it could scarcely be expected that anyone writing of a place forty-five years after the date in question, could recall accurately all the details of the scene.