William Jarvis at Work
Harrassed by Russell
A few years after arriving in Upper Canada, Simcoe returned
to England for a visit. While he was away,
the senior government official remaining in Upper Canada,
was in charge. Russell was no admirer of William
Jarvis. In the summer of 1797, he set up a committee
of inquiry to look into the operations of the departments
Jarvis was running. Inefficiencies, especially extremely
long delays in the issuing of land patents, were the
focus of the inquiry.
. . . more to come here . . .
Harrassed by Hunter
illiam Jarvis's laziness may have irritated Simcoe, but
there was real trouble on the horizon for Jarvis
when the new lieutenant-governor, Peter Hunter,
arrived in Upper Canada. Hunter was a professional
soldier and a strict disciplinarian, with no tolerance
for inefficiency. William was not his sort of man.
Problems in Jarvis's department soon came to Hunter's notice,
particularly the serious delays in issuing land patents.
It was characteristic of Jarvis that he seemed to do
little to help himself, preferring to make excuses and
play the innocent victim than to work harder and strive
to please his superiors. A contemporary observed that Jarvis
"constantly annoyed him (Hunter) by his habitual procrastination and neglect of duty and was repeatedly rebuked and warned
of impending dismissal."
The following incident vividly illustrates the strained
relations between Governor Hunter and Jarvis (from
Jarvis Street: A Story of Triumph and
Tragedy by Austin Thompson):
" . . . a number of Quakers, led by Timothy Rogers and
Jacob Lund, who had settled in the area of today's
Newmarket, complained to Governor Hunter of the long delay
they had experienced in trying to obtain their land patents.
The governor at once ordered the surveyor-general, the clerk
of the executive council, the clerk of the Crown, and William
Jarvis, secretary and registrar, to assemble in his
office, together with the disgruntled Quakers, at noon
the next day.
"The governor opened the meeting by stating to his officials,
'These gentlemen complain that they cannot get their patents.'
After an icy interrogation, Hunter soon discovered that the
order for the patents had been outstanding for over a
year. The blame was finally perceived to lie with the hapless
secretary, who in an attempt to excuse himself, pleaded that
the pressure of business in his office had prevented him
from completing the work. "Sir!' the governor stormed, 'if
they are not forthcoming, every one of them, and placed in
the hands of these gentlemen here in my presence at noon on
Thursday next [it was now Tuesday], by George!, I'll un-Jarvis
(Hunter meant he would unseat Jarvis. A jarvey
was the driver of a coach.)
In 1805, Hunter suddenly died of an attack of gout in Quebec.
The news must have come as a relief to the hard-pressed
Jarvis. The next two governors, Alexander Grant and Francis
Gore, left him alone. Thus William Jarvis kept his job,
despite years of nearly losing it.
But he did not live worry-free. By 1808 William Jarvis
was sinking in debt. His income as secretary and treasurer
had not been nearly what he had hoped for, and he had
made it a habit to live far beyond his means.
Creditors hounded him.
Quetton St. George, an important
merchant with a large store on King Street, pressed Jarvis
for payment of his large account. Jarvis made a series of
promises, but failed to live up to them. St. George then
offered to take some of Jarvis's real estate in lieu
of payment. Jarvis refused. St. George threatened
More stories about the histroy of Jarvis Collegiate, early Toronto and William and Samuel Jarvis.