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Toronto of Old: Dr. Henry Scadding and Yonge Street to Penetanguishene (5 photos)

Books provide an interesting glimpse into region's past

Old Penetanguishene and Toronto are intimately linked as Yonge Street became the ‘Old Penetanguishene Road,’ north of Barrie. 

When Scadding’s Toronto of Old first appeared, the naval base at Penetanguishene had been abolished and Collingwood had been made the primary terminus of the Northern Railway of Canada and for the place of resort for the steamers and shipping for the upper lakes.

Nevertheless, the fine highway, in Scadding’s words, “...yields to the inhabitants of Vespra, Oro, Flos , Medonte, Tiny and Tay, the incalculable advantage of easy communication with each other and markets to the south...”

At the time of this writing, Penetanguishene had not yet been reached by rail connections and had declined in importance since the closing of the “Establishment.”

A series of important visitors such as Dr. Thomas Rolfe, Richard Bonnycastle and John Galt all visited Penetanguishene. Rolfe’s Statistical Account of Upper Canada mentions the town favourably.

Bonnycastle visited in 1841 during the periodic distribution of gifts to the Pou - tah wah - tamies and about two thousand other natives who had come from the U.S. He also describes the Establishment in detail, as well as the “ church built of wood....between the Garrison and the town of Penetanguishene.”

When John Galt visited the town to explore Lake Huron to the west of the Canada Companies Huron tract, from Cabot’s Head in the north to the Rivière aux Sables in the south. His Majesty’s gunboat the Bee was placed at his disposal.

There are about seven pages on Penetanguishene and area that are well worth reviewing for those interested in the intimate connections between Toronto and “Old Penetanguishene.”

Shown here are the covers of the first and scarce, second edition. I commend these volumes to the favourable notice of our readers. 

Copyright René Hackstetter July 20, 2020.