Parliament Buildings, York (Toronto), 1797-1813
When Upper Canada was created (Quebec Act, 1791), the
government was to include a Legislative Council of at least seven members appointed by the Crown and an elected Assembly which had to consist of a minimum of sixteen members called at least once per year.
Governor Simcoe held the first session of the Legislative
Council in 1792 in Navy Hall at Niagara (renamed Newark to make it sound more British; now known as Niagara-on-the-Lake),
before a more permanent site was chosen for the new capital.
After Simcoe's opening speech, parliament moved outdoors,
near the mighty Niagara River, where the recording clerk
used a boulder as a desk.
On the following May 28, 1793, both Houses of Parliament, the Legislative Council and the Assembly, met for a session lasting six weeks.
imcoe selected Toronto (renamed York to make it sound more British) as the site where he would build his new capital in the summer of 1793. On August 31, 1793 in his tent—the very tent Captain Cook used during his travels in the South Pacific, which Simcoe had purchased at a London auction—he held the first meeting in York of the Legislative Council. In September he returned with his government to Newark for the winter.
Construction began on the government buildings in 1794. Located on a spot overlooking the eastern end of the harbour, surrounded by forest, they consisted of two large wood halls and various
offices for the legislature and the courts of justice. They were completed in 1796 and occupied in 1797. Until then, legislative business continued at Newark.
When an invasion force of Americans occupied York
in 1813, they burned the legislative buildings with all their records and documents, as well as pillaging the public library and
robbing the church. A few months later the British sent a force to Washington, for retaliation, and burnt the public buildings of the American government.
More stories about the history of Jarvis Collegiate, early Toronto and William and Samuel Jarvis.
Robertson, J. Ross, Landmarks of Toronto, Vol.1,
Mika Publishing Company, Belleville, Ontario, 1976.
ISBN 0-919302-04-8. Facsimile edition of original