An ongoing research project of the Ontario Genealogical Society, Toronto Branch

The York Report

The “York Report”  is an important part of the Simcoe’s Gentry story. It is part of the minutes of the Upper Canada Land Board. (Land and State Minute Book Volume A, covering 8 July 1792 to 27 June 1796) The minutes do not use the words “York Report” but the title was used colloquially in York land records that followed it.

The “York Report” was commissioned by Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe in 1796, and  shows the state of York’s development to that date. Most of the Park Lots had already been granted. The York Report addressed Simcoe’s concerns that a viable town develop at York—not merely a governmental outpost where speculators held most of the land.

The York Report also revealed and rectified some of the problems that had cropped up in a land-granting system that the government had been re-inventing as it went along. This is particularly evident in a careful analysis of the Park Lots. The York Report recommended that Park Lots 1, 2, 6, 9, 10, 11, 12, 18, 20, 23 and 26 be allocated to different owners. (They had probably already been traded amongst the grantees.) The grantees for Park Lots 5, 11, 12 and 23 were not yet resident, and the grantees for Park Lots 27 and Township lot 33 had died.

The following is a transcription of the portion of the handwritten “York Report” that refers to the Park Lots—first the terms of the inquiry, and then the Report itself. The original Upper Canada Land and State Minute Book A is at Library and Archives Canada (R10875-18-5-E) and on microfilm C-101 at various institutions.

UPPER CANADA LAND AND STATE MINUTE BOOK, VOLUME A, p 336, 6 April 1796

His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor is confirmed daily in his opinion that the Interest of His Majesty, and that of the Public require, that the Seat of Government should so soon as possible be fixed internally on the Spot selected for that purpose on the River Thames, but as he He [sic] is under the immediate necessity, at present, of contracting those views which he trusts hereafter will be properly expanded, He desires the opinion of the Committee on such Arrangements as may be necessary to give effectual support to the growth and welfare of the Town of York. etc. etc. etc. —in consequence He directs the Honourable Council in Committee

First—
To examine and report to His Excellency in Council upon all former proceedings of the Council relative to the settling the lands of the Crown in the Town and Township of York, and in their Vicinity, and to state such parts thereof as shall seem just and expedient to be finally ratified and confirmed. For this purpose to call upon the Acting Surveyor General forthwith to lay before the Committee the several Plans in his Office to the Town & Township of York with a return of each & every assignment, He has been directed to make therein, & any documents in his possession relative thereto.

Secondly—
To summon every person to whom a certificate or order of Council has been given, or assignment has been made as a settler on Young [sic] Street, to appear of himself or his lawful agent before the Committee & to recommend the grant of Lands to those who may seem duly entitled to the same.

Thirdly—
To call upon the settlers in the Township of York & to confirm such Grants therein as may be proper.

Fourthly—
To report what period in the opinion ot the Committee ought to be allotted to each Officer of the Government for the construction of a House, in the front lots of the Town of York, agreeably to a Plan that shall be recommended by the Committee to His Excellency, provided such officers receive one hundred acres of land respectively in the first Concession of the Township of York, and adjacent to the Town, in aid of the expense necessary to the Erection of such an House conformably to the original principle

Fifthly—
To assign such portion of land as may hereafter reimburse Government for the expenses incurred in the opening of Young [sic] Street.

Lastly—
To adjust such regulations as may be expedient and not burthensome, to give an architectural Uniformity to the Town, an object of very great importance in the Establishment of a new Province and to propose whatsoever may have a tendency to promote the welfare and speedy settlement thereof.

p. 341

To His Excellency Major General Simcoe Lieutenant Governor & Commander in Chief of Upper Canada etc etc etc.

Report of a Committee of Council held at York Ap’l 6, 1796 and continued by adjournment to the 28th of May 1796

Sir,

The Committee of Council having taken into their consideration the Instruction of Yesterdays date which Your Excellency has been pleased to order to be laid before them entirely concur with Yr Excellencys opinion that the Lots immediately butting on each side the Roads of Communication, particularly Yonge Street, and Dundas Street, ought not to be granted to any but Bona fide Settlers.

They therefore humbly submit to Your Excellency the following Rule to be adopted in the locating those particular lots as a Means of Securing a full Compliance with so beneficial a Resolution.

When ever Your Excellency in Council may judge proper to grant the Prayer of a Petition for a lot in either of those Streets, the resolution thereon shall be so worded as to suspend an assignment thereof, from issuing from the Surveyors Office, until Yr Excellency in Council shall permit it, upon being satisfied that the applicant has built a House thereon, and is actually dwelling therein, either in his own Person, or by a Sufficient Tenant, and the said Resolution shall at the same time declare that the applicant shall forfeit all claim to the Lot prayed for, if he fails to execute the whole of this Stipulation before the Expiration of One year from the date of his permission to Occupy the Lot prayed for—

With respect to the Exceptions and Dispositions of the Reserves in the Vicinage of York it appears to the Committee to be unnecessary for them to enter into a discussion thereof, As Yr Excellencys Plan and Recommendation have been already approved by one of His Majestys Principal Secretarys of State with only one Additional Reserve for the Accommodation of the future Rector, and this they observe Your Excellency has amply attended to by Appropriating four hundred acres for that purpose.

The Committee beg leave to lay before Your Excellency a schedule of the Persons to whom farm lots have been ordered and to Recommend for Confirmation by Deed those to whom they find assignments have issued, and those who tho’ not under assignment they find either settled in the Vicinage of York or making some advance towards An improvement in their Respective Lots:

Schedule as under
May 25, 1793

Thomas Collins—prayed for a Tract of Land of 69,120 acres.

Inadmissable but ordered a Grant of two farm lots for himself & Son at Toronto.

Sept 2nd, 1793

John Scadding—for No 15, East side the Don, first concession under assignment.

Recommended.

Lots in the Town

Concession

Recommended for Confirmation or Rejection

Sept 2, 1793

John Cox U.E.

14

First

Under assignment Recommended.
Frederick Brown

13

do

do
G&B Mosley between them

11

do

Benjamin, do
Ditto, ditto

10

Second

Geo. being Dead, this lot presumed to be vacant
John & Thos Mathews

10

First

John appeared his lot improved do
Paul Wilcot

7

do

Appeared, improved with broken fronts. do
John Ashbridge

8

do

do do
Jonathan Ashbridge and James McDonell

9

do

Jonathan Ashbridge. Recom’d for East half & broken front.
Messrs. Cozens (Brothers)

6

do

Samuel appeared. Recom’d.
Ditto

16

Second

No application & ignorant which of the Cozens may be entitled.
Ditto, Dan’l
Andrew & James Hunter

5

First

Did not appear
Wm Cooper prays for this lot Recom’d as And’w & James Hunter have left the Province
Messrs. Cozens

Back lot and for Lots No. 24, 25

Fourth

West side Yonge Street. J&B Cozens appeared—Recommended
John Philips

Town lot, 1/2 No. 1

Third

No appearance or application
David Ramsey, U.E.

do 2nd

First

Under assignm’t. No app’ce. Recom’d
Christopher Robinson

Town Lot 13

Second

U.E. No appearance
Magnus Swanson

do 13

Third

No appearance
John Coon

18

Second

U.E. Recommended
Cap Bouchette, exclusive of former grants. 2 lots for self & son

24

1st

Township of York
Ditto as part of former grant

29

2nd

do. Under assignment. No appearance. Recommended.
John & Thos Hewett

15

do

No appearance.
John Stoner

19

4th

do
Wm. Smith

Back lot 11

3rd

Recom’d
Jos. Dainty, a certain part of

33

1st

Dead. Township of York.
J.B. Rousseau, do

34

do

Town’p or York. Recom’d
F. Willard. broken front

12

do

Dead
Peter Benville, Jos Burk

Edwd Graham, A. Campbell

Town lots 4

4

do

Second

No. 4 under assignm’t to Patrick Burn

No appearance. ditto

Wm Demont

2

Third

Recommended
Bensley Peters

3

do

No appearance.
Abraham Lawraway

19

Second

Under assign’t. No appearance Recom’d
Mr. Wm Wilcocks.

Front lot 15

1st

Township of York
Mr W & Chas. Wilcocks

Chas. Wilcocks

24

Front lot 13

2nd

1

do. Under assignment to Wm. & Chas. but the latter never having been in the Province. Recommended for Wm. only. Township of York not Resident
Sept 4, 1793
Chief Justice Osgoode

do 5

do

Township of York not Resident
Ditto

26

3rd

do  do
Peter Russell, Esq

do 14

1st

do Recom’d
Ditto

23

2 & 3rd

do. (under assignm’t) do
John White Esq

do 4

1st

do do
Wm. Jarvis Esq

do 2

do

do do for No. 6
E. B. Littlehales, Esq

do 1

do

do do for No. 18
D. W. Smith, Esq

do 6

do

do do for No. 10
John McGill Esq

do 7

do

do Recom’d
Mr. Justice Powell

do 11

do

do. Not Resident. No. 11 do for a Glebe
Judge not appointed

do 12

do

do. Not Resident. No. 12. do for Mr. Justice Powell
Solicitor General

do 26

do

Township of York do for No. 13
Incumbent

do 9

do

do. No. 9. do for Mr. Macaulay
Major Smith

front town lot 27

first

Dead
Captain Shank

21

do

Township of York. Recom’d
ditto

26

2nd

do do
ditto

27

3rd

do do
Geo Porter

5

do

Recom’d to be confirmed
Cap S. Smith

do 22

1st

Township of York. Recom’d
ditto

27

2nd

do do
ditto

28

3rd

do do
Captain Aneas Shaw

Fr Town lot 20

1st

do do for 23
ditto

28

2nd

do do
ditto

29

3rd

do do
Captain Spencer

do 23

first

do. not resident. do for No. 20.
ditto

30

2nd

do do
David Burns, Esq

do 25

1st

do do
James Macauley. Esq

do 10

do

do do for No. 9
Mr. R.Richardson

do 31

2nd

do do
Adj’t McGill

do 25

do

do do
D. McDonell

do

June 7, 1794
Thos Ridout prays to relinquish two lots granted in the Township of York.
June 28
James Macaulay Copied from the Minutes of Council. Prays for lot No. 65 on the Road leading from York to Lake Simcoe, & 400 acres in the rear of the above lot. Granted.
July 9
Copied from the Minutes of Council. The Town of York to be built according to a Plan laid before the Council, & that all persons obtaining a Grant to build a House within 3 years from the date of his certificate or forfeit the same.

[July] 15
Adam McColgan Prays for lot in the Township of York
Geo. Playter, Esq

FT. lot 8

first

U.E. Township of York. Recom’d
ditto

20

2nd

do. under assignm’t. ditto
ditto

3

do

do do do
James Playter

11

do

do do do
Eli Playter

12

do

do do do
John Playter

17

do

do do do
Watson Playter

21

3rd

do. West side the Don do
Bolton and McLeod

22

2nd

Not resident, being vacant. ditto for a Glebe.
Bolton Brother

21

2nd

do. being vacant. Do. for Abner Miles.
Lieut. Arch’d McDonell

14

do

No appearance.
Thomas Ridout

T. lot 31

3rd

Recom’d for a Town lot only having drawn 1200 acres elsewhere
John Denison

22

do

Township of York. No appearance.
Lewis Grant

24

do

do do
Augustus Jones

30

do

Sept 5, 1794
John McKay

F.T. Lot

Mr. James Clarke, Barrack Master

T Lot 15

third

Recommended.
Captain Bouchet in part of an Order of Council

3

32

first

third

under assign’t. Recom’d

do. West of the Don. do

George Newman

25

do

not resident. Recom’d to be rescinded.
[J. Lead]

FT Lot

do do do
Capt. G. Glasgou

do 39

second

do do do
Lieut. J. Givens

32

do

Township of York Recom’d to be granted
Lieut. Alex’r McDonell

T. Lot 12

third

Recom’d
Angus McDonell, Esq

B. T. Lot 7

second

do. No appearance.
Sept 5, 1795
Mr. J. McDonell

6

second

Not resident. Recom’d to be rescinded, and reserved for a glebe.