1797 Smith Plan for the enlargement of York

“Surveys in 1796 and 1797 extended the town north to Lot (Queen) Street, west to York Street, and then west again to Peter Street. The blocks and lots of the New Town were much larger than those of the original town. An important focus for municipal activities was provided by setting aside blocks between the Old and New towns for public buildings. The St. Lawrence Market and St. James Cathedral still occupy the sites allotted to market and church.

In an attempt to prevent speculation, each person was allowed only one lot in the New Town. Note, however, that members of one family often held adjoining lots - a legal method of acquiring a large block of land for later resale.”

- Isobel Ganton & Joan Winearls, MAPPING TORONTO'S FIRST CENTURY 1787-1884

“Lt.-Gov. John Graves Simcoe left Upper Canada on July 21, 1796. Peter Russell, Receiver and Auditor General of Upper Canada, was chosen as Administrator of the province until Simcoe's return. In mid-1797 Russell — realizing the town needed more space for public buildings and settlement — extended the town north to Lot Street (now Queen Street) and west to York Street.”

- Wendy Smith, Peter Russell’s Expanded Town of York in The TORONTO PARK LOT PROJECT — an exploration of the earliest days of the TOWN OF YORK, founded in 1793 by John Graves Simcoe, first Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada. 

Click the images to view full-size versions.

1797 map showing the planned enlargement of York, by DW Smith

Plan submitted by Order of His Honor The President for the enlargement of York. The Blocks washed red are already surveyed - the unsurveyed part is projected in acre lots with a few exceptions. 

[ Signature ]: D.W. Smith A.S.G. [ On verso ]: His Honor the President Mr. Russell 9 June 1797 Plan of York as amended by Him.

Image courtesy Toronto Public Library: Ms1889.1.2
Winearls, MUC no. 2018

The next map from David Smith shows the assignment of the lots:

1797 Plan for the enlargement of York, DW Smith, map

Plan for the enlargement of York, as amended by Order of His Honor the President projected in Lots containing an acre more or less.

Signed: D.W. Smith A.S.G. 10 June 1797: In council at York, June 10th, 1797, Peter Russell [ Endorsed title on verso ]: His Honor the Prest 10th June 1797 approval of the Town plot of York - addition

Image courtesy Toronto Public Library: Ms1889.1.3
Winearls, MUC no. 2018 (2)

This transcription may assist in reading the names for each plot:

From John Ross Robertson’s Landmarks of Toronto. A collection of historical sketches of the old town of York from 1792 until 1833 (till 1837) and of Toronto from 1834 to 1893 (to 1914). Also ... engravings ... Published from the Toronto “Evening Telegram. Vol. 1, p475 [see: British Library image: HMNTS 10460.p.4.]

“By the end of that year, Russell had been persuaded by Chief Justice John Elmsley to extend the town boundary further west, to the limits of Fort York's 1,000-yard firing range — the "ordnance boundary" marked by the curved line in the map below. Russell named the street which set the western boundary Peter Street, after himself.”

- Wendy Smith, ibid.

His Honor the Presdt approval of the Town Plot of York. 2nd addition. Signed: Approved, Peter Russell. Copy W.C.

Image courtesy Toronto Public Library: Ms1889.1.4
Winearls, MUC no. 2018 (3)

“This copy of this plan was drawn by William Chewett [father of James Grant Chewett -N.] and signed "Approved Peter Russell" in 1797 or 1798.

Letter from Russell to Simcoe (in England), dated December 9, 1797:
... I have extended this town westward towards the Garrison and to the North as far as the base of (the) Hundred acre (Park Lots), reserving between the part that was laid out by your Excellency and this addition, a large space for public buildings (viz. a church, Court House, jail, market, hospital, schoolhouse, &c.), most of the lots have been already taken up and about forty houses erected and several more are beginning.” 
- Wendy Smith, ibid.

Sir David William Smith (1764-1837) was born in England. He began his career in the military but soon moved into the civil service and became a prominent member of the establishment in Upper Canada. He was a member of the first parliament of Upper Canada and was elected Speaker in 1797. In 1792 he was appointed Surveyor-General of Upper Canada, a post he held until he returned to England in 1804. He was made a baronet in 1821.” - Ganton/Winearls, ibid.

The names on the plans may be contrasted with those found two decades later (see 2nd map).

TORONTO PARK LOT PROJECT (Wendy Smith) text used under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence.
Please ‘Like’ and Share these maps with other Toronto history enthusiasts! (+1s are also welcome!)