Everything you needed to know in 1845
Paper was “devoted to general literature, science, politics, agriculture and commerce”
There were pioneer newspapers in Peterborough before 1847. However, it has been difficult to get a dependable history as few copies have survived, and only a handful were microfilmed in the various microfilm projects of the 1960s and 1970s. The Peterborough Gazette began with the issue of August 15, 1845, which has been microfilmed. Several of the issues microfilmed for 1846 had been copies kept by Dr. Hay. The microfilm copy at the Trent Valley Archives includes a nice but incomplete run of 14 issues of the weekly newspaper from February to July from Vol. 1, issues 28 to 49. From Vol 2, 14 of the 52 issues were microfilmed.
The Peterborough Despatch, founded in 1847, was the forerunner of the Peterborough Examiner. The printing type and some presses of the Peterborough Chronicle, which published between 1844 and 1847, passed to the Gazette after a serious fire hit the offices of James McCarroll, the editor of the Chronicle. The printing equipment and type of the Peterborough Gazette were acquired by the Peterborough Review which began its remarkable run in 1853. The Gazette, too, may have been a victim of fire.
However, an issue, Volume 1 Number 6, of the Peterborough Gazette for September 19, 1845 is quite informative about the newspaper and about Peterborough.
The publication information box in this issue describes the paper as “devoted to general literature, science, politics, agriculture and commerce.” The paper was published every Friday “for a Company of Proprietors” by J.H. Dunsford from the office on the southeast corner of the Market Square, which would be the corner of Charlotte and Water. This office also did “books, job and ornamental printing.” This issue of the Gazette advertised the availability of the store next to the Gazette office “with an excellent Cellar beneath, and a convenient office adjoining.” It was described as “amply fitted up with shelves, Drawers and Counters.” The corner was described as “close by the landing-wharf of the Steamboat, and almost in the centre of the Town.”
The business directory lists several people with offices at the Court House. Wilson S. Conger was the first sheriff of the Colborne District; Frederick Ferguson was the treasurer and Government Land Agent; Charles Rubidge was the Registrar of the County of Peterborough; W.H. Wrighton was Clerk of the Peace and Deputy Clerk of the Crown; Walter Sheridan was the District Clerk; and John Reid was the District Surveyor.
Robert Nicholls was listed as the Agent for the Bank of Montreal, with an office on the northeast corner of the Market Square, at the corner of Simcoe and Water. The building at Water and Simcoe that was built for Bank of Montreal was built in 1857-58.
Newspapers depended on subscriptions and on advertisements for their revenue. The Gazette was a Conservative paper, and the government of the western part of the Province of Canada was also Conservative. The list of lots for sale in the Colborne District would be a local government ad. So was the notice of the Colborne District Agricultural Cattle Show and Fair which announced “The third annual fair or Exhibition of Stock, belonging to this Society, will take place in the Town of Peterborough on Tuesday the 7th October, next.” I reported in Winners (1995) my history of the Peterborough Agricultural Society that its first fair was in 1843 and not 1845 as seemed to be the common wisdom locally. Despite this, the Society continues to advertise its annual fair as if it began in 1845 because it relies on previous advertising rather than my book.
The principal, the Rev. Robert J.C. Taylor, of the Colborne District Grammar School, commonly known as the Government School, announced that he was prepared to accept pupils into his family. The school aimed to prepare students for careers in “Mercantile pursuits” or the Professions. Taylor was also offering courses in Mathematics and Classics. Henry Baldwin was the second master at the school.
The Rev. Mr. Taylor (1803-1852) was the Rector of Peterborough, based at St. John’s Church. After 1845, this school was in the former British Wesleyan Methodist Church which was on the northeast corner of Sheridan and Hunter, near the Hunter Street Bridge. This issue of the Gazette carried the obituary for the Rev. John S. Marsden, the British Wesleyan Minister, aged 33, who died suddenly. Marsden had been stationed in Peterborough but served in a wide area. The British Wesleyans merged with the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1840, more permanently in 1847, and emerged by 1854 as the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Canada. Locally, the church became redundant as Methodists met at the church on the west side of George Street just north of McDonnel Street.
J. H. Dunsford commented editorially on Taylor’s advertisement. “We congratulate ourselves, the Town and Neighborhood on the acceptance by the Rev. R.J.C. Taylor of the situation of Principal of the Colborne District Grammar School, and on his avowed intention of receiving Pupils into his family. The Taylors had six children plus the son of the late Rev. T. Fidler, and by 1850 accepted six other children. Taylor had “removed into a spacious and convenient mansion, commanding an extensive view of the Lake and River.” This may have been the house owned by Walter Sheridan on Brock Street, and long the residence after 1860 of the F.W. Haultain family.
Taylor had been a teacher in this school in the early 1830s, but in 1837 he went to Trinity College Dublin to get his clerical training and to serve as curate in English churches, and in St. Paul’s Newmarket. He returned to Peterborough in 1841 to be Rector of Peterborough and to serve with the board of the Government School.
When Taylor and his wife died a month apart in 1852, the members of the congregation shared the raising of the children.
There is an extensive advertisement for a Bazaar at St.
John’s Church. I have seen similar ads over the years, but this is the only one I know for a bazaar to be held in January 1846, but being advertised in September 1845. “Bazaar. In the first week of January next, a bazaar will be held at the Court House, the proceeds of which will be devoted to the purchase of Communion Plate and the internal decoration of St. John’s Church.” Anyone wishing to contribute articles could contact one of the following women: Mrs. Hall; Mrs. Wallis; Mrs. Ferguson; Mrs. Wrighton; Mrs. Ussher; Miss Mathias; or Mrs. Taylor. In addition, a concert “of vocal and instrumental music” was planned, possibly led by Baron DeFleur.
Newspapers such as this issue of the Peterborough Gazette are invaluable guides to the local business community. The earliest business directory, and this for the whole Province of Canada, was in 1857-58. And directories before 1887 do not have street numbers in the addresses.
J. Wright, carrying “Dry
Goods, Groceries and Hardwares” was at the corner of George and Hunter, opposite the Albert House. The Albert House was on the south-west corner.
Mogg and Curran had just “burned a Kiln of Bricks, of Superior quality” at their yard in Smith Township, “half a mile North of the Town of Peterborough and near Benson’s Mills.” This would be about where Mill Street meets Water in the park area that was the former turning point for the streetcars. There were several brick works in the Peterborough area of which Curtis Brothers were the largest. The first brick buildings in Peterborough, including the first hotel on Charlotte Street, date from 1845, but I have never read that Mogg and Curran supplied those bricks.
“Dr. Hay has removed to his new residence in Brock Street, next door to Mr. Poole’s Furniture Warehouse.” This description might fit a house on either side of the Brock Street parking lot. The north side of Brock Street had several houses linked to doctors and was known as “Doctor’s Row.”
Alexander Macphail, who described himself as “Apothecary, Chemist & Druggist” was in the Medical Mall, wherever that was. He had a couple of advertisements totaling about 10 inches. One ad listed all the patent medicines that he stocked. The main ad said he had “a complete and extensive assortment of Drugs, Medicines, Paints, Oils and Dry Stuffs.” He carried “tar, pitch, rosin, turpentine, varnishes, brushes, &c” as well as “Druggists’ glass ware, fancy articles, soaps and perfumery.” Macphail also carried “English and American garden and field seeds, together with every article connected with the Business.” In a third ad, he was advertising a wide range of spices, from India and Jamaica and elsewhere.
H. McCallum, the agent for Leith Ale, had just received a fresh shipment.
Patrick Dupre, in Otonabee Township, was the agent for a New York nursery, and had fruit trees and ornamental and flowering trees and shrubs.
There were a few legal notices sprinkled across the four-page newspaper. William McBurney announced an arbitration would be held “to contradict the 999 lies which have been told” and to settle all matters in dispute with William Lundy. John Edward Ware contradicted a report in the Peterborough Chronicle which suggested he was bankrupt because of his connection with Thomas Bird, druggist.
The newspaper was also advertising the sale of buildings and lots around the area. The largest ad, running to about 15 inches, and inserted by the District Treasurer, Walter Sheridan, listed properties for sale by the Colborne District. The lots for sale were commonly 100 or 200 acres, but the range was from 49 acres to 400 acres. Several of the other lots or properties for sale were offered by the Rev. J.H. Dunsford or George Barker Hall. One interesting town lot for sale midway between George and Aylmer was described: “Lot No. 4, West of George, and south of Murray Streets, containing half an acre, with a good frame 18x24, and a number of Fruit Trees on it.”
The local newspaper was indeed a mine of information about the area.
The Haultain house, the last house on Brock Street, was destroyed in the Quaker Oats fire of 1916. The backyard went all the way to Hunter Street, and provided a terrific view of the Otonabee River. (Trent Valley Archives)
This 1845 edition of The Peterborough Gazette carried advertisements and notices about the community.
An 1845 advertisement for what would become the Peterborough Exhibition.