CHAPTER X. The Place of Council - Its progress and its people - English hearts - "Sebastopol is taken" - Squibs and crackers - A ship on her beam-ends - Selfishness - A mongrel city - A Scot - Constancy rewarded - Monetary difficulties - Detention on a br
The people of Toronto informed me, immediately on my arrival in their city, that "Toronto is the most English place to be met with out of England." At first I was at a loss to understand their meaning. Wooden houses, long streets crossing each other at right angles, and wooden side- walks, looked very un-English to my eye. But when I had been for a few days at Toronto, and had become accustomed to the necessarily-unfinished appearance of a town which has only enjoyed sixty years of existence, I fully agreed with the laudatory remarks passed upon it. The wooden houses have altogether disappeared from the principal streets, and have been replaced by substantial erections of brick and stone. The churches are numerous, and of tasteful architecture. The public edifices are well situated and very handsome. King Street, the principal thoroughfare, is two miles in length, and the side-walks are lined with handsome shops. The outskirts of Toronto abound in villa residences, standing in gardens or shrubberies. The people do not run "hurry skurry" along the streets, but there are no idlers to be observed. Hirsute eccentricities have also disappeared; the beard is rarely seen, and the moustache is not considered a necessary ornament. The faded careworn look of the American ladies has given place to the bright complexion, the dimpled smile, and the active elastic tread, so peculiarly English. Indeed, in walking along the streets, there is nothing to tell that one is not in England; and if anything were needed to complete the illusion, those sure tokens of British civilisation, a jail and a lunatic asylum, are not wanting.
Toronto possesses in a remarkable degree the appearances of stability and progress. No town on the Western Continent has progressed more rapidly; certainly none more surely. I conversed with an old gentleman who remembered its site when it was covered with a forest, when the smoke of Indian wigwams ascended through the trees, and when wild fowl crowded the waters of the harbour. The place then bore the name of Toronto - the Place of Council. The name was changed by the first settlers to Little York, but in 1814 its euphonious name of Toronto was again bestowed upon it. Its population in 1801 was 336; it is now nearly 50,000.
Toronto is not the fungus growth, staring and wooden, of a temporary necessity; it is the result of persevering industry, well-applied capital, and healthy and progressive commercial prosperity. Various railroads are in course of construction, which will make it the exporting market for the increasing produce of the interior; and as the migratory Canadian Legislature is now stationary at Toronto for four years, its future progress will probably be more rapid than its past. Its wharfs are always crowded with freight and passenger steamers, by which it communicates two or three times a day with the great cities of the United States, and Quebec and Montreal. It is the seat of Canadian learning, and, besides excellent schools, possesses a university, and several theological and general seminaries. The society is said to be highly superior. I give willing testimony in favour of this assertion, from the little which I saw of it, but an attack of ague prevented me from presenting my letters of introduction. It is a very musical place, and at Toronto Jenny Lind gave the only concerts with which she honoured Canada. A large number of the inhabitants are Scotch, which may account for the admirable way in which the Sabbath is observed.