Friday, February 27, 2009

The Family of William Harrison (1812-1849) and Mary O'Connor (1820-1904)

William HARRISON (1812-1849)
m. Mary O’CONNOR (1820-1904) – on April 19, 1837 at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, Wildfield, Toronto Gore Township, Peel County
Upon his death on March 11 1849, William's estate was valued at £1005, 10s with total debts of £181 . The majority of this was in land. The 100 acres on Lot 8, Concession 9, Toronto Gore Township where the Harrisons first settled in 1831 was valued at £600. Mary O'CONNOR, William HARRISON's widow married Edward GALVIN at St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church, Wildfield, Peel County, Canada on January 27, 1864. On February 1, 1864 Edward and his wife Mary signed an indenture where she releases her 1/3 dower interest in all property to her son William for $1. Edward seems to have disappeared sometime later.


William and Mary had the following children:

• William (1838-1920) m. Minnie DEADY at St. Mary’s Church, Simcoe County on November 28, 1888 – they had one child, a daughter named Frankie in 1890. She married James DERRICK. William attended St. Michael's College, affiliated with the University of Toronto, in the early 1860s.  According to his obituary, published in the Brampton Conservator on May 27, 1920, William passed away suddenly on May 19th of heart disease. He was engaged in farming at Derry West for a number of years and then operated the Arlington Hotel in Brampton from about 1895. The hotel was located on the corner of Railroad and Elizabeth Streets directly across from the Grand Truck Railway station. He was buried in St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cemetery in Brampton.

• Bridget (1840-1856), buried St. Patrick’s Cemetery – never married. Her obituary in the Toronto Mirror says that she died "after a lingering illness". "Miss Harrison was a native of the Gore of Toronto, and from her sweet charitable, and pious disposition, will be long and deeply mourned by her friends and acquaintances".



• Francis H. (1842-1925) m. Mary Ada CREED, April 1, 1876, Evanston, Wyoming USA. Francis attended St. Michael's College in the 1860s and would become a medical doctor, after furthering his education at Bellevue Medical College in New York City, and then at Yale University - including a stint in the US Army as a Medical Cadet during the Civil War (see separate entry).


John (1845-1927) farmed on Lot 8, Concession 10, Toronto Gore Township until 1887 when he sold it to George Robinson and retired to live in a large farmhouse in Vaughan Township, York County just north of Claireville. The house still exists and is located on the east side of Highway 50 just north of Highway 407.  It was then, late in life, that he married Margaret LENNON on January 9, 1901 at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, Toronto Gore Township, Peel County.  John and Margaret had apparently already had one child, a daughter named Gertrude, mysteriously born on March 19, 1894, according to census information.  There does not appear to be a birth registration nor a baptismal entry in St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church in Wildfield?   Gertrude would later marry John DEANE on August 23, 1922.  John DEANE was a recent emigrant to Canada only arriving in Quebec in November 1920.  They had four known children – John, James, William and Helen.    Originally the Deane family lived in Woodbridge but later they moved to the City of Toronto.  John died on May 15, 1936 and is buried in Mount Hope Cemetery, Toronto.


Tombstone of John Harrison and Margaret Lennon
St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Cemetery, Wildfield
© Michael Harrison 2010


• Nicholas (1847-1933) m. Mary WILEY on January 24, 1882 at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, Toronto Gore Township, Peel County.

Nicholas Harrison Farm - Lot 8, Concession 10, Toronto Gore Township, Peel County 
© Michael Harrison 2009

Nicholas farmed on Lot 8, Concession 10, Toronto Gore Township for a number of years. Upon his retirement he moved to a small cottage on the west side of The Gore Road just south of Mayfield Road opposite St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church. According to his obituary in the March 31, 1933 edition of the Bolton Enterprise, Nicholas passed away at his home on March 27th. He was described as “one who had been prominent in the public life of the county for well over half a century”. He had served as the clerk of the Township of Toronto Gore for 50 years, as well as representing the township on the Board of Directors of the Peel Farmers Insurance Company, of which he was president from 1910-1912. He was also a school trustee for several years.
Nicholas and Mary had the following children:

  • Mary Maria (1882-1962) m. Charles O’HARA on April 26, 1904 at. St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church – had 4 children
  • Anne Elizabeth (1884-1964).  I think I found her boarding at the McRae home in Winnipeg in the 1911 census.  She  married George WIGGINS in Kenora, Ontario on October 12, 1911.   According to George's obituary, he moved from Toronto to Winnipeg in 1909 to open the Success Business College.   Since they both lived in Winnipeg I wonder if they eloped?  Why leave Manitoba and get married in remote Kenora, Ontario? George listed his occupation as professor in college.  Anne listed herself as a teacher.  In 1914 George joined the G. R. Bradley and Co.  They are in Winnipeg in the 1921 Canadian census.  Anne's sister Mary (Minnie) is living with them as a teacher along with her nephew Vernon Tice.   George retired from business In 1942.  He died on May 4, 1947.   Annie continued to live in Winnipeg until her death on September 12, 1964.  They are both buried in Brookside Cemetery.  They had no children.
  • William John (1885-1966)  William lived on the family farm until sometime after 1911 when he went to Saskatchewan.  His draft papers from 1918 have him as single and living in Amulet, Saskatchewan.  Sometime later he married Della Bernice Hammond, daughter of Ben Hammond of North Dakota.  They had two children William Maurice Harrison in 1921 and Rosalie Edith Harrison in 1924.  Later they moved to the US.  They were living in Yuma County, Arizona in the 1930 and 1940 US Census.  Descendants continue to live in Yuma today.
  • Francis Ewart (1887- September 1961) – never married
  • Clara Isabel (1889-1924) married Charles TICE in Toronto in 1906.  They moved to the United States and were living in Hamilton, Indiana in the 1910 US Census.  In 1914 they immigrated to Saskatchewan where Charles took advantage of the land available as a Homesteader.  By this time they had three children - all boys:  Clifford (b. 1909), Claude (b. 1911) and Vernon (b. 1915).  Charles enlisted in the Canadian Army in 1915 and served overseas in the First Pioneer Battalion, Canadian Engineers.  The family was listed in the 1916 Saskatchewan census - Charles was noted to be overseas.    Charles married for a second time in England to Rose Whittaker in Ecclesall Bierlow, Yorkshire West Riding, England on May 6, 1917.  They had one daughter Rose in England in 1918.  In 1921 two of the sons (Clifford and Claude) were living with their grandparents Nicholas and Mary Harrison in Toronto Gore Township, Ontario and the other son (Vernon) was living with his aunt Anne Wiggins (nee Harrison) in Winnipeg.   What then happened to Clara Harrison is unclear, she was still alive though I cannot find her in the 1920 US Census or 1921 Canadian Census.  What is known is that she died in Toronto on December 15, 1924 and is buried at St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church in Wildfield, Peel County.  Charles Tice and Rose did come to US in about 1921 but lived first in Pennsylvania then in Ohio, then in the city of Madison, Indiana before finally settling in Pendleton Indiana (Madison County).   That is where they appear in the 1940 US census.  He died there in 1945.  Rose died in Indianapolis (Marion County) in 1978.   It does not appear that the children from his marriage to Clara Isabel Harrison ever lived with him again.  Vernon Tice continued to live with his aunt and uncle in Winnipeg.  He enlisted in the Royal Canadian Artillery in 1940 and took part in D Day operations in France on June 6, 1944.  Captain Vernon Tice was killed on June 9, 1944 and is buried in the Beny-Sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery in Calvados, France.  His obituary mentions that he was married and his wife's name was Eileen Emily (maiden name unknown) who was living at 179 Renfrew Street in Winnipeg.  His uncle George Wiggins is also mentioned in the obituary.  Clifford and Claude appear to have remained in Ontario.  However Clifford later immigrated to the United States.  He died in Orange County, California on October 9, 1990.  I have not been able to determine what became of Claude Tice. 
  • Hilda Maria (1891-1980) m. Dr. TIGHE on April 7, 1913.  They had 4 known children.  Yvonne b. 1915, Frank 1918-1918, Frank b. 1919 and John 1924-1925.  They originally lived in Bolton, Ontario but had moved to Bomanville, Ontario by 1921.  Frank Harrison Tighe born in 1918 eventually immigrated to the United States were he married Ann Stevens-Butz in San Bernandino, California on March 24, 1961.  Frank died in San Bernandino, California on May 15, 1995.
  • Alice Louise (1893-1986) m. Martin BYRNE on September 23, 1914.  Alice died in 1986.
  • Edith Alexandra (1897-1917).  She was a teacher but died unmarried in 1917.
  • Minnie (Mary) Margaret (1898-1983) Mary was a teacher.  In the 1916 census she is living with her sister Anne Elizabeth Wiggins (nee Harrison) in Winnipeg and is listed as "Mary".  She is also listed as living in Winnipeg in both her mother's obituary from 1928 and her father's obituary in 1933.  Mary lived in Winnipeg until at least 1935.  Sometime later, and currently unknown to me, she met James R. Rutledge.  She later married James R. Rutledge of the United States Marine Corps who was born in Arkansas in 1904.  He was stationed in Pearl Harbour, Hawaii in 1930 and at the US Legation in  Peking in 1935, so I have no idea how they met. In the 1940 US census they were living on a US Marine Corps base in Virginia.  I also believe that he fought in WWII but have no details on his involvement in the war.  After the war they appear to have settled in San Diego, California.  James died in San Diego on December 26, 1968.  Later in life "Mary" moved to Yuma, Arizona, no doubt to be closer to her brother's family and died there in April 1983.

Mary O'Connor (1820-1904), wife of William Harrison


© Michael Harrison 2009

This is a photo of Mary O'CONNOR, daughter of Nicholas O'CONNOR and Mary POWER who married William HARRISON, son of William HARRISON and Mary HUTCHINSON on April 19, 1837 at St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church in Toronto Gore Township, Peel County. According to her response in the 1901 Census she emigrated to Canada in 1828.

The Four Sons of William Harrison and Mary O'Connor




© Michael Harrison 2009

The four sons of William HARRISON and Mary O'CONNOR in Brampton at the same time. In the back row is Nicholas (left) and Dr. Francis (right). In the front row is John (left) and William (right). I am not sure when this was taken but probably around 1900.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Journey of the "King William" to Canada in 1831

The following letter was written by Hannah Young to Mr. Robert Hodghson (though it is addressed to Ann), Ellerby nigh Whitby, Yorkshire England from Toronto Township, (present day City of Mississauga west of Toronto) in January 1832 describing their voyage on board the King William from Whitby to Quebec in April 1831. The letter contains much more information but I have edited it down to the travel details. This is the ship that the Harrison family travelled to Quebec on.

Dear Ann

I take this opportunity of writing these few lines to you and i hope they will find you all in good health as it leaves us all at present thank God for it dear friend it is now above 8 months since we parted very possible never to meet again in this world you will remember when i left you in Stradfords gallery i went on in haste to let my Aunt know that you and your Cousin James and Aunt Ann was there and i knew that neither my Uncle nor William was on board i thought she might come on shore and see you all for the last time but when i found her she had just parted with your Aunt Sarah and her heart was full of trouble seeing them left her expecting to find you again and to bid you a final farewell but when i went to the door it was locked and you were all gone but there being a road through the celler i got to the street but were you was gone i never could learn i went into every room but could not find neither friend nor relation nor any that i knew this being done i made when i got below the plank was drawn the ship was moved all was ordered below my Uncle come on board at the bridge as soon as the sailors would allow us we came upon deck and took the last survey i was not more than an hour before i was very sick my Aunt was not sick untill the next morning she was the better saillor but for the first three weeks we were both very sick and i had a violent cough i thought i should have died my Uncle and William was never sick untill the 14 and 15 when the wind blue from the North a perfect gale but after that they had good health all the way over every Sunday we had a prayer meeting on deck morning and afternoon and every evening on the week day below for there was many like myself that was not able to go on deck to the prayer meeting on the 20 it was a fine day we entered the firth and we had scotland on the left hand and the Orkney island on the right at scotland we could clearly discern the buildings the men ploughing the cattle grazing in large herds by the sea side my Aunt was upon deck most part of the day at night we left the North sea and entered the Western Ocean and bade adieu to the british island 21 of may this morning the wind was contrary which was a great disappointment as we intended to see quebeck in the course of the day at 2 oclock P M the ship came to anchor opposite the goose island a narrow piece of land laying the middle of the river a boat was lowered down Mr. Carr Mr. Wilson my Uncle and two or three more rowed of to it the canadiens were busy sowing their wheat in the evening they returned they brought with them a quantity of milk some neat straw hats and a goose William killed it and it was roasted on sunday the 23  
[actually May 22nd] we reached quebeck on the 24 [the King William actually arrived on May 22nd according to the Quebec Mercury] we left king William and went on board of a steam packet and reached Montreal on the 27 [this date - and others in the letter- are suspect given the other known incorrect dates in the letter.  These mostly likely resulted from the fact that Hannah did not write her letter until January 1832 - almost a full year after the journey].......your affectionate friend Hannah Young....


The Young Family's return address on the envelope is: William Young, Inn Keeper in the Township of Toronto, Near the River Credit Dundas Street, York, Upper Canada, North America.

Amazingly, this letter has survived on both sides of the Atlantic !!

The original copy sent to England is now in the London School of Economics, British Library of Political and Economic Science, Letters of Emigrants to America, M627.

The other copy is in the Region of Peel Archives (Toronto Township was in the former Peel County). It is listed as Young Family Letter, dated January 8, 1832, Accession # 1984.058.

Tombstone of William Harrison - died 1836


© Michael Harrison 2009



This is the tombstone of William Harrison my great great great grandfather. He is buried in the cemetery at St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church at present day The Gore Road and Mayfield Road in the City of Brampton.  The age of 55 years on his tombstone suggested a birth year of 1781.  This led to years of confusion between him and his first cousin William Harrison, son of William HARRISON and Elizabeth ALCON who was born in that year.  Since William HARRISON was actually born in 1773 he was really 63 years of age when he died in 1836.

Tombstone of Mary Hutchinson 1783-1856


© Michael Harrison 2009


This the tombstone of Mary Hutchinson, my great great great grandmother and wife of William Harrison (1773-1836). Four years after the death of her first husband she married Thomas Smyth on April 27, 1840. She is buried in the cemetery at St. Patrick's Church, Toronto Gore Township, Peel County (present day The Gore Road and Mayfield Road in the City of Brampton). This is one of the oldest Catholic cemeteries in the Toronto Region.

Mary's obituary appears in the August 22, 1856 edition of the Toronto Mirror and reads:  Died - On Sunday the 17th inst., after a lingering illness, which she bore patiently and resignedly, Mrs. Smyth, wife of Mr. Thomas Smyth, Etobicoke, at the good old age of seventy-two years.  Mrs. Smyth was one of our early pioneers in the duties of a Christian Mother, and having lived to see her children's children grow up around her, has now departed to the heavenly home of her ancestors in the Faith.  May she rest in peace:  may her soul find rest.

Thomas Smyth was a native of Clonmel, County Tipperary, Ireland. Originally he was a farmer but later operated the Claireville Hotel in Claireville. Thomas donated land for the first Catholic School in Etobicoke Township, York County. It was located in Highfield and built in 1840. His son James C. Smyth married Mary Hutchinson's daughter Ann Harrison in St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church in Wildfield on July 20, 1841.


According to William Perkins Bull's From Macdonell to McGuigan: the History of the Growth of the Roman Catholic Church in Upper Canada, Thomas Smyth and Mary Hutchinson were the only neighbours to come to the assistance of Colonel Baldwin and his wife at Clogeneagh Lodge in 1847 when typhus broke out at the makeshift hospital the Baldwins had created in their home to administer to the many sick immigrants fleeing the famine in Ireland. Both helped care for the sick and while Thomas helped Colonel Baldwin build the coffins for the many who died, Mary helped Mrs. Baldwin prepare the bodies for burial in the makeshift cemetery that remains undiscovered.

It sounds like Thomas Smyth was a very spiritual man for part of his obituary in The Canadian Freeman of June 16, 1870, reads:
In his death the helpless lost a friend, the orphan a father, and the dying, one of the truest benefactors; in fact as the priest who preaches the funeral oration said 'the old parish priest is now no more'; and many, we are sure, have since said the same in their hearts....The large attendance, at his funeral, of his neighbours, both Protestant and Catholic bears ample testimony on his sterling qualities as a neighbor (sic), a friend, and a Christian.

Family of George Harrison 1809-1855 and Mary (Faith) Linton

Tombstone of George Harrison
St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Cemetery, Wildfield 
© Michael Harrison 2009

There is no evidence of the exact relationship between George Harrison and William Harrison other than a mention in the Harrison family file in the Perkins Bull Collection that he was the brother of William Harrison Jr, son of William Harrison and Mary Hutchison.  The information in the Perkins Bull Collection was obtained through research and interviews in the 1930s.  However, he does not appear to be a brother of William Harrison Jr.  He is not mentioned in William Harrison Sr.'s will of 1836.  Perhaps they were cousins?

George HARRISON (1809-1855) married Faith –later Mary- LINTON (bap June 17, 1804, Goathland, North Yorkshire, England - January 1884) on December 15, 1829, in Goathland (Parish of Pickering) (Church of England), North Yorkshire, England.  Esther Linton, Faith's sister was the witnesses.  Faith changed her name to Mary when she made her "profession of faith" and converted to Catholicism on June 17, 1837. Faith was the daugher of Thomas LINTON and Mary LOWNSBROUGH.  Her brothers Brian and Moses also immigrated to Canada.  Faith's brother Isaac married William Harrison's sister Hannah (Ann) at Egton in April 1829. 

They had the following children:

• Thomas (1830 – May 9, 1907) b in North Yorkshire, England.  A baptism of Thomas has not been found in either the Anglican or Roman Catholic Records in England.  According to his death registration, Thomas died on May 9, 1907, aged 77 years, of “old age”. At the time he was living on Humber Lot 15, Concession 9, Etobicoke Township, York County. The St. Patrick’s Death Register records him as living in Claireville and “very poor”. He was buried in St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Toronto Gore Township, Peel County in Wildfield on May 10, 1907.

• Mary (1832-?) married James ? – Mary was the subject of the first family entry in Father Gordon's register from St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church, Wildfield, Peel County, when she was baptized on March 17, 1833 at the age of 5 months.  The sponsors were Matthew Hutchinson and Mary Harrison.  I lose track of her early and can only find one later entry for her in the St. Patrick's baptismal register when her son George b. 1849 was baptized in January 1850.  Unfortunately the name of the father is written into the present binding of the book and not possible to read.  Sponsors were George Harrison and Mary Harrison.   Faith Linton did not convert to Catholicism and change her name to Mary until 1837 so the Mary Harrison listed as the sponsor is most likely Mary Hutchinson, wife of William Harrison. 

• Margaret (1835-?) She last appears in the 1861 census living with her mother and brothers.  Is she the "Mary" Harrison, daughter of George and Mary Harrison who married Frederick Trane, son of John and Maria, b. New Orleans, USA (circa 1839) on July 19, 1861 in King Township as recorded in the County Marriage Register?  They appear to have lived in King Township for some time after but "Mary" is referred to as Margaret on the census records.  Perhaps this is correct and her name in the Marriage Register is wrong? 

• William (1836-?)  He last appears in the 1881 census living with his mother and brothers Thomas and George.

• Alice (1838 - 1912)  In 1857 she married Patrick Burns and had the following children:  James (b. 1859), Nicolas (b. 1861), Mary (b. 1863), George (b. 1866), Patrick (b. 1869), John (b. 1870), Ellen (b. 1875), Martha (b. 1876), Thomas (b. 1879) and William (b. 1882).  She died of senility in the Insane Asylum in Toronto in 1912.

• John (1840-1856) – never married – buried St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Wildfield, Toronto Gore Township, Peel County.

• Esther (1842-1914) married James STUBBS (1840-1931), son of James and Ann Stubbs on March 5, 1863 according to the County Marriage Register
They had the following children:
o Albert m. Ida BOOTH – 7 children – Albert, Mabel, Frank, Ida, Sarah, William and Ethel
o John W. (May 23, 1874 - July 20, 1931) m. Elizabeth GRAHAM
o Joseph W. m. Alice BIRCH – 8 children – Fred, Mamie, Lily, Gilbert, Donald, John, Grant
o Edward – went to Orillia
o Sam m. Maud HEELS – 2 children – Margaret and Lloyd
o James T. m. Annie Adeline NORRIS (1869-1931) – no children
o William (1868- Dec 20, 1917) m. Alvia TAYLOR (d. 1927) – 1 daughter in Alberta
o Sarah (Dec 5, 1865 - Oct 9, 1928) m. Albert J. FULLER
o Minnie m. Thomas PHILLIPS
o Annie m. Alfred EWART
o Fred m. Lorne GROZELLE – 1 son - Howard

• George (1845-1897) married Ann Elizabeth MIDDLETON, daughter of John MIDDLETON of Pickering. The marriage took place September 18, 1884 at Bolton, Ontario and is recorded in the Palgrave Pastoral Charge (Methodist) marriage register. The groom was living in Claireville. The witnesses were Henry PHILLIPS of Columbia and Harriet WIESMORE of Woodbridge (this would be George's niece most likely) . The register indicates that George's father was John but all other indicators show that he was in fact the son of George.  George and Elizabeth immigrated to Bay City, Michigan, USA in 1885.  George died there on December 30, 1897.  Elizabeth Middleton remarried Frank Westbrook on November 24, 1904 in Traverse City, Leelanau, Michigan.  Frank Westbrook was the son of N. Westbrook and Lucy Freeman.    They lived in Bay City, Michigan with her children. 
They had the following children:
  • John born in 1885.
  • Marie (b. 1893) was first married to John MARRY on July 8, 1907.  He died and she remarried Peter DUGAY on September 25, 1919 in Bay City, Michigan and died in Bay City, Michigan, USA. In the 1920 US census they are living in Bay City, Michigan.  His brother-in-law John Middleton, Frank Westbrook step-father-in-law and Elizabeth Westbook (Middleton) mother-in-law are all living with them.  Elizabeth Middleton indicated that she emigrated to the US in 1885.
  • Ethel married Delbert LEWIS in Essexville, Michigan on March 17, 1909.
  • Myrtle born in Bay City Michigan in circa 1893.  She was married to Norman STANLEY on November 19, 1911 in Bay City, Michigan.
  • George born in 1901. 

• Ann Jane (1847-?) married Charles WIESMORE (1844 - September 24, 1844  - Oct 21, 1899) on August 23, 1869. Charles was born in 1844 in New York.  Charles enlisted as a Private on 6 August 1862 at the age of 18 in Company E, 122nd Infantry Regiment New York on August 6, 1862.  He deserted on July 26, 1864 while in Washington DC.  He moved to Canada and settled in Clairville, Etobicoke Township, York County.  On August 23, 1869 he married Ann Jane Harrison.  In the 1871 census they are living in Clairville next door to Ann Jane's mother and brothers.  Charles' occupation is listed as Painter. In 1881 they are living in Vaughan Township, York County with 4 children (Harriett Ann, James Henry, Carrie May and Thomas Ambrose).  Interestingly the 1881 census indicates that Charles was born "at sea".  In 1888 they moved to the United States and lived in Buffalo.  They had the following children:  Harriet Ann (1870-?), James Henry (1873-1950), Carrie Mae (1876-1900), Thomas Ambrose (1880-1938), Charles H (1883-1900) and Nicholas Wilfred (1885-1948).  Charles died on October 21, 1899 in Buffalo.  Ann Jane remained in Buffalo and died sometime after 1920. 

George appears to have set up his own farm and household in 1835 when he began renting 50 acres (NW ¼) of Lot No 12 in the 10th Concession of the Township of Toronto Gore, Peel County from Patrick Bulger. He purchased these lands by private sale on October 29, 1839 as recorded in the Upper Canada Land Book 1839-1841. On September 5, 1844 he sold the property to John Murphy for £150.

In the 1852 Census we find George and his family living on 79 acres of land on Lots 18 and 19, Concession 12, in the Township of King, York County. Living with him were his wife Mary and children Margaret, age 18. William age 16, Alice, age 14, John, age 12, Esther, age 10, George, age 8 and Ann Jane, age 6.  The agricultural portion of the census indicates that of the 79 acres, 25 acres were under cultivation (15 with crops and 10 under pasture); with 54 acres still under forest cover. Of the 15 acres under crops 5 acres were planted with wheat, producing 100 bushels; 5 planted with peas producing 75 bushels; and 5 planted with oats producing 100 bushels. For livestock they had 2 milch cows, one calf, 5 sheep and 2 pigs. For produce they had 50 pounds of butter and 3 barrels of pork. George was renting this land as he is not listed as the owner in the land abstract books for this property.

Thomas, George’s eldest son is living with the family of Mary Harrison (nee O’Connor) and her sons on Lot 8, Concession 9, Toronto Gore Township, Peel County.

After George’s death in 1855 his eldest son Thomas became the head of the family.

The 1861 Census finds them on Lot 32, 11th Concession in King Township, York County. Again they were renting as they do not appear on the land abstract for this property. Along with Thomas, age 31 was his mother Mary and his brothers and sisters Margaret age 25, William age 23, George, age 15, Esther, age 19 and Ann Jane, age 14.  They are living in a log cabin.  In addition there is Mark Linton visiting from Pickering. This would be Mark Linton (1833-1882) son of Moses Linton and Jane Robinson. Moses was the son of John Linton of Goathland. Most likely a brother of Thomas Linton, Faith's (Mary) father. As such Mark Linton would have been Mary's (Faith) first cousin.

In 1871 we find the family living in Etobicoke Township, York County.  Mary, age 68 years, is living with her sons Thomas and William.  Wilson Linton, possibly her brother and his family live nearby.  Her daughter Ann Jane, married to Charles Wiesmore, is living next door.

In 1881 we find the family living in Etobicoke Township, York County. Mary, age 81 years, is living with her sons Thomas, George and William. All three sons list their occupation as labourer.

There is a death registration for a Mary Harrison of Etobicoke Township, York County, registered in January 1884 which is most likely the mother of Thomas, George and William.  The registration contains little identifying information and was submitted by her physician as opposed to one of the children.

In 1891 Thomas is living with the family of George Robinson in Toronto Gore Township, Peel County where he is listed as a farm labourer. Not sure what happened to his brother William.  His brother George married Elizabeth Middleton in 1884.

In 1901 we find Thomas living with the Wiley Family on Lot 2, Concession 8, Toronto Gore Township, Peel County. Unfortunately he did not respond to the question of when he emigrated to Canada (or it was not recorded) in the census. The census indicates that he was employed for 10 months as a domestic at an annual salary of $129.

Matthew Harrison Farm


Matthew Harrison Farm
© Michael Harrison 2009


This was the home of my great great grandfather Matthew Harrison (1822-1887). It was built circa 1855 shortly after he purchased Lot 9, Concession 10, Toronto Gore Township - 100 acres - from William H. Bailey for $1,100 on March 1, 1854. 

The destruction of the property by neglect and indifference occurred with little intervention from the City of Brampton despite my many interactions with city staff to bring the protection of this heritage resource to their attention.  

In 1995, the Eastgate Heritage:  Heritage Resource Management Study – Eastgate Study Area was conducted for the City of Brampton.  It was a Secondary Plan Heritage Study that examined all the heritage structures in the Eastgate area.  The recommendations for the Matthew Harrison farm were encouraging.  


They read as follows:


Maintain and protect house and farmstead elements in site planning; protect and maintain burials, consider restoration of damaged stones and incorporation in publicly accessible space in the event of redevelopment; make alignments, roadways and property subdivisions that follow/respect historic field patterns.


I was optimistic that such forward thinking would ensure that the elements of the farm would be protected and preserved for the future as part of the history of Brampton.  


I was to be very disappointed.  Despite the advance planning for the conservation of heritage resources within the Eastgate Secondary Planning area not much – as far as I can see - has been realized.  I am not sure why but if the Harrison farm is any indication there seems to be a lack of will to get serious about heritage in the City of Brampton.


On the Matthew Harrison Farm the barn was demolished in the mid 1990s.  The farmhouse, which was located on the east side of The Gore Road just south of the Castlemore Side Road, was occupied until 2001 when the property was sold to a development company.  The new owners vacated and stop maintaining the farmhouse.  Despite my many attempts to get the city’s attention not very much was done.


In 2002 I wrote to the developer to encourage them to integrate the farmhouse into the development. I wrote:


In addition to ...being eligible for many different types of awards which would indicate the progressive and caring nature of your company, you would provide a landmark and tangible connection to the past for your development.  It would not be a nameless community, it would have a history.  It could form the basis for your marketing of this new community (how does the Harrison Heritage Estates sound?) and could serve as an architectural model for the future homes.


I then provided examples of how other developers in the GTA had treated heritage homes on their properties and used them to their advantage.  I provided them with many examples of marketing campaigns that capitalized on heritage.  It all fell on deaf ears.


In February 2005 contractors working for the Region of Peel ran over the cemetery with heavy equipment and dumped fill on it.  An eagle-eyed member of the public who knew about the cemetery informed the city who intervened to stop any further damage.  An article followed in the Toronto Star on February 25, 2005.  A cleanup and archaeological assessment of the cemetery followed during which it was confirmed that there was only one burial shaft present.  This meant that Anne Hewgill was buried with her child when they both died in 1869.


The farm house was demolished in 2006 after many years of neglect by the property owners with little or no intervention from the City of Brampton to do anything about it.



The city sanctioned dismantling of the Matthew Harrison farmhouse
© Michael Harrison 2006


The bricks and some of the interior woodwork was then utilized to create a facsimile of the home, with the same exterior architectural features on the west side of McVean Road a short distance north of Castlemore Side Road.   The city of Brampton heralded this as a triumph in the Fall 2008 issue of The Brampton Heritage Times but if anything it was an admission of defeat.  Success would have meant the house remaining onsite as recommended to the City of Brampton in the Eastgate Heritage report of 1995.   Instead the city allowed it to be dismantled and destroyed.  The new house on McVean Road is not Matthew Harrison’s house.   It is simply a copy of it.


Fortunately the cemetery has fared better.  It has been incorporated into the development of the property and the tombstones have been restored (pieces of the child's stone however were lost in 2005).  However the ancient apple tree that was the last remaining from the historic orchard went by the wayside because some consultant said it was too old despite the fact that the plan I was provided with by city staff included the tree.  It would have been nice if part of the tree could have been grafted onto a new tree but I was not asked my opinion.  The city simply changed the plan without asking me. 


The new cemetery is nice but built to urban standards when a split rail fence would have been more appropriate for this “rural” 19th century farm cemetery.  However, it is safe and I guess I should be grateful for that.  In the summer of 2010 the restored tombstones were placed back in the cemetery (most of the child's stone is missing and lost) and in late 2010 the cemetery was designated under the Ontario Heritage Act. The cemetery is now owned by the City of Brampton.


A nearby street in the subdivision is called "Matthew Harrison Street" as a reminder of the family's history and long ownership of the site but think how much better it would have been if the farmhouse was still there adjacent to the cemetery as a tangible link with the past.


Heritage is a non-renewable resource.  Once it is gone it is gone.  Brampton is diminished by the loss of the Matthew Harrison farmhouse.

Harrison Residence, Dixie Road and Dundas Street, Toronto Township, Peel County

© Michael Harrison 2009

This is the Harrison residence on the north east corner of Dixie Road and Dundas Street, Toronto Township, Peel County (present day City of Mississauga) taken about 1915. My great grandfather William Harrison and his family moved here about 1910 when he sold the 100 acres of land he owned in Toronto Gore Township. Here William operated a market garden growing fruits and vegetables. I think they lived here until the late 1920s. My great aunt Rita Harrison (Sister Mary Caroline) is peaking out the front window and her brother William (Bill) is standing at the front gate.


© Michael Harrison

Here is a photo of the field behind the house.