[Home]   [Documents]   [JargOnline]   [Jarvis History]   [All Pages]

Samuel Peter Jarvis's Career in Government
Comes to an Unpleasant End

Samuel had reason for needing money--his father had left him a pile of debts.

. . . (more to come here?)

The first inquiry into problems in Samuel Jarvis's Department of Indian Affairs began in 1839, when Governor-General George Arthur appointed judge James Buchanan Macaulay to a one-man commission. Macaulay's report, completed in April, said that the main problem of the department was its inability to attract "persons sufficiently diligent, active and zealous" to supervise its programs. (Gosh! surely Judge Macaulay intended no slight against Samuel?)
      It was the three-man commission appointed in 1842 that ended the career of Samuel Jarvis. It arose from complaints about the department. At the hearings, held in Kingston, witnesses testified about bribery, fraud, religious discrimination and general lack of concern for the people under the care of the department.
      As Canadian historian Douglas Leighton wrote,

The commissioners were dissastisfied already with the chief superintendent's conduct on several grounds. Representatives of different Indian bands had expressed their displeasure with Jarvis. Their accusations came to a peak with complaints from Lake Simcoe bands of his immoral behaviour and blatant favouritism in the distribution of annual presents. The commissioners, moreoever, had noted certain irregularities in the chief superintendent's account books as early as November, 1842. Entries for warrants issued eighteen months previously had obviously been made only days before the commission had received the accounts for examination. Jarvis had made large withdrawals of funds in advance as requisitions for tribal funds; these were supposed to be signed by the chief and show the purpose and the amount of the money withdrawn, but Jarvis had simply marked them "for the use of the tribe," making it impossible to trace the disposition of these funds. Jarvis' private bank account and his official one, both at the bank of Upper Canada, indicated some juggling of money back and forth between the two. Jarvis's replies to enquiries concerning these irregularities were 'evasive, confused and unsatisfactory.'

The government spent four years pursuing Samuel Jarvis, trying to recover the money missing from his accounts. Jarvis steadfastly denied any wrongdoing.

For all the excruciating details on Samuel P. Jarvis's financial scandal, see Jarvis Street: A Story of Triumph and Tragedy by Austin Seton Thompson. See Bibliography


Samuel Peters Jarvis
in the early 1850s

More stories about the history of Jarvis Collegiate, early Toronto and William and Samuel Jarvis.