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Establishing Upper Canada

Portrait of Lieutenant
General Simcoe
City of Toronto Archives,
Fonds 1231, Item 1437

John Graves Simcoe (former commander of a military regiment called

the Queen’s Rangers) left Britain on September 26, 1791 with his
wife and children to start his new job as Lieutenant Governor of
Upper Canada. He was very eager to start establishing the new
British colony of Upper Canada.
Simcoe encouraged settlement in Upper Canada by offering 75
hectares of land to any settler who would follow his three rules:
1. Swear an allegiance to the King of Britain.
2. Serve in the Upper Canada militia in case of an attack.
3. Farm the land, and make it prosperous.
This promise of land attracted many Late Loyalists to Upper
Canada. Simcoe had two notable political accomplishments during
his term as Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada. He moved the
capital city and he put limits on slavery. Simcoe did not feel that
the current capital at Newark (Niagara-on-the-Lake) was safe
from an American attack. He moved the capital city to York
(Toronto). He also passed the Anti-Slavery Act in 1793 preventing
people from acquiring new slaves, and releasing children of
slaves from slavery on their twenty-fifth birthday.
Establishing Upper Canada

Corduroy Road, Near Guelph, Upper Canada,.

Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1981-42-29R

The first roads in Upper Canada were named “Corduroy Roads”

because of their bumpy corduroy-like appearance. John Graves
Simcoe hired soldiers to build these roads. The roads were
important to the military as a faster method of travel during
times of crisis. They also provided links between developing
communities. These roads were created by cutting the logs in
half, and laying the logs flat side down onto the ground side by
side. Many people found these roads difficult to travel on due to
their bumpy and uneven surfaces.

York Emerges

York, Upper Canada

Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1970-188-2092

York became an important settlement during Simcoe’s time as

Lieutenant Governor. He favoured this settlement over Newark as
the capital because of its distance from the United States, and its
proximity to Lake Ontario, making it better for trade and travel
At the beginning of 1812, York had a population of 700 people. It
was well on its way to becoming an important settlement with new
industries developing. York was the home to tanneries, breweries,
brickyards, shipbuilding, as well as pottery and potash factories.
The first streets to be built were Yonge Street and Dundas Street.
Bytown Emerges

Entrance of the Rideau Canal, Bytown, Upper Canada

Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1955-128-11

In 1800, Philemon Wright and other American settlers set up a

community at Chaudière Falls (present day Hull). He had hoped to
develop a thriving farm community. He soon discovered that the
timber industry was a more profitable industry. Wright sent rafts
of timber for export to Montréal and Québec using the
Colonel John By arrived in Bytown on September 21, 1826. He
came from Britain on a mission to build a canal connecting the
Ottawa River to Kingston. It was very important to connect these
waterways in case the Americans cut off access to the St.
Lawrence River. Through the building of the Rideau Canal, Fort
Henry, an important military base in Kingston, would still be able
to receive supplies for its troops. The canal was completed in
1832. ©
Establishing Upper Canada
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