35 Lytton Blvd
Toronto, ON M4R 1L2
Ontario’s Second Wave of
19th Century Settlers:
One Family’s Story
Speaker: David Corkill
By 1840 Upper Canada was a flourishing agricultural society. Along the lakeshores and on the Niagara Peninsula many mature communities were developing. Villages and towns served farmers needs with mills, roads and even regular stagecoach services carrying passengers and mail. Urban merchants dealt with distant cities in England, Europe and the US linked by lakes, rivers and canals.
Still, many poor immigrant families continued to pour into the country. To find land they could afford they needed to push away from these communities into the wilderness beyond. Unfortunately, much of this land was very poor for agriculture. The initial enthusiasm of living off the land was soon dispelled as these newcomers faced clearing the land, building shelters, and sowing crops in desolate, remote locations with poor soil. They had to find other ways to facilitate their survival in this harsh environment. One source was the Canadian Shield itself that they were living on. It was found to contain many riches with which eventually many could sustain themselves. Railways began pushing into the interior, greatly helped them exploit these resources. This is the story of one such family and how their ingenuity and hard work allowed them to survive and prosper and eventually escape the toil of the farm.
David Corkill was born in Toronto and was the third generation to graduate as a Mining Engineer from Queen’s University in Kingston. David worked at various mines in Ontario and across Canada including Wawa Ontario, a town well known to people from the 60’s. An interest in workers’ health and safety led him to a regulatory role in Ottawa. He retired to Vancouver Island but felt a call to family and Toronto where he now resides. He maintains an interest in geology and the history of mining in Ontario and in recent years he has become very involved in family history research.