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The Toronto Purchase

The Mississaugas were the main occupiers of the north shore of Lake Ontario in 1763, when Britain defeated France in the Seven Years War, gaining control of France's North American possessions.
      The British were concerned to acquire lands by treaty, since many of the native peoples had been their allies in the war. Accordingly, the British Governor-in-Chief at Quebec, Lord Dorchester, sent a ship, the Seneca, to Toronto Bay in August of 1788. It was met and guided into the harbour by the resident fur trader, St Jean Rousseau, who had a house on the Humber River.


The Toronto Purchase

      In the Toronto Purchase the Mississaugas sold 250,808 acres (101,528 hectares) of land to the British for just over a dollar per acre. The price agreed upon was 149 barrels of goods and a small amount of cash, the total value being 1,700 British pounds or about $202,674 in 1999 Canadian dollars. The goods included 2,000 gun flints, 24 brass kettles, 10 dozen mirrors, 2 dozen laced hats, a bale of flowered flannel, and 96 gallons of rum.
      The Seneca also carried surveyors, who drew up plans for a possible town site and sounded the bay to prepare the way for future shipping, but after Dorchester's men left, Toronto saw very few European visitors for several years. Events began to move more quickly only after Governor Simcoe selected Toronto in 1793 as the "temporary" (Simcoe vainly hoped to make a permanent capital in the area of London) location for the capital of the new province of Upper Canada.

In June 2003 the Government of Canada began negotiations on a land claim by the Mississaugas of the New Credit Nation, an 1,800-member native band that occupies a 2,400-hectare reserve near Hagersville. According to the National Post (June 18, 2003), "The Mississaugas claim the British Crown's purchase of the land in 1787 was not adequately explained to native leaders -- the deed itself was blank and was not signed by Crown representatives. In 1805, the tribe and the government negotiated a revision to the deal -- now known as the "Toronto Purchase" -- that included the payment of 10 shillings. The Mississaugas maintain their ancestors never accepted the boundaries of the 1805 treaty and were unfairly compensated." The land claim, stretching from Ashbridge's Bay in the east to Etobicoke Creek in the west and 45 kilometres north from the lake, includes most of the city of Toronto. The government insists that a settlement will not put privately owned land at risk.

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


Dendy, William, and William Kilbourn, Toronto Observed, Oxford University Press, Toronto, 1986. ISBN 0-19-540508-0

The Toronto Star, August 7, 2000, p. 3.