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Household vermin have been problems for centuries, especially for city dwellers.

For a long time the main defense was provided by dogs and cats. By the 18th century, rat traps using a spring-loaded jaw and a baited trigger were in use, often set out by a professional exterminator. Rats seem to have been regarded as the most serious household menace.

As early as 1838 a U.S. Parent was issued to T. Kelly of Alexandria, Virginia, for an improved rat trap.

It was not until 1869 that the first U.S. Patent was issued for a mouse trap, to A.G. David of Watertown Conneticut.


Victor Chocker Mousetrap
Animal Trap Co. Lititz Pa
Made in U.S.A.

In 1901 this type of mousetrap could be purchased from The T. Eaton Co. Limited in Toronto, Canada or ordered from their catalogue for 6 cents each.

Photo from author’s collection
Most traps were based on the principal of spring loaded jaws. Some people, however, objected to removing the carcass from the trap; it might be bloody or putrescent, or bearing lice.

So live traps were devised, in which the animal was lured by means of bait, and the entrance closed by the release of a trigger. The captured animal could then be drowned by submerging the trap in a pail of water.


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Church Architect: Henry Langley (1836-1907) TORONTO, ONT., Bible Christian Methodist Chapel, Agnes Street at Terauley Street, 1872-73; demol. (Globe [Toronto], 2 Dec. 1872, 2, t.c.; 3 Jan. 1873, 1, descrip.)

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DundasBoysSchoolJoseph Coleman, a wealthy merchant and former Mayor of Dundas, built a grand house on Governor’s Road near Ogilvie Street in 1857. In 1869 it burned to the ground and he rebuilt it. However, bad ecomonic times led to his bankruptcy and he lost the home in 1872.

In January of 1873 the Methodists purchased the property and established the Dundas Wesleyan Institute, a boarding school for boys which opened on January 14, 1874. The right section of the building was the original Coleman house. The depradations of the scores of boys staying in the school finally took their toll and the school closed for good on March 15, 1878. The Methodists sold the property to Father John McNulty who wanted to establish a home for senior citizens.

Father McNulty deeded the property to the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1879 for the care of the elderly and orphaned. The House of Providence was officially opened in June of 1880. The property again burned to the ground in October of 1900 and a rebuilt House of Providence opened on May 1, 1902.

By the late 1960s it was becoming obvious that the facility was inadequate to meet the needs of the residents and a new St. Joseph’s Villa was built just west of the original building. It opened November 8, 1970. In 1971 the original House of Providence building was torn down for the construction of what is now the St. Joseph’s Estates.

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The Plough


The Plough

Since the dawn of history, man has looked to the soil for survival and shortly after he had stripped nature of its abundance, he turned to the good earth to replenish his supply of food, clothing and shelter.

Always an improvisor, the farmer down through the ages resorted to the crude forked stick found in the eastern world, then to the foot-plough of South America and then to the more traditional plough which has appeared in wood, bronze, iron and steel.

The Plough is still the indispensable tool that gives the human race command over the soil and helps to produce the bounty from nature. Societies, municipalities, and some manufacturing organizations proudly display the plough – our link with life itself.…from Westfield Pioneer Village

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City of Toronto – Toronto Culture, Museums and Heritage Services, Reference No. 1978.41.60

The Canada Land Company was in 1837 on the east side of Frederick Street between King and Palace (now Front), in a building designed by John G. Howard.  Perhaps more interesting than its architecture was the company’s evolution.

The War of 1812 had many immediate as well as long-term consequences. Particularly for those people in York who had their homes and lives upset, the process of rebuilding was long and expensive. However, as York was a colonial settlement, the home government of Britain had certain obligations.

It was these obligations that John Galt was employed to pressure the government for on behalf of the colonists(1). The residents’ claims for losses and damages from the War had been ignored by Britain, such that by 1815 there was growing discontent(2). For a fee, Galt served as their spokesman, and managed to get the British government to pay a portion of the debt in 1820(3).

However this was all they would pay unless the provincial government of Upper Canada would match their payments or take over some of the funding of the province(4). Galt determined that, since the colonial government had no capital, Crown and Clergy Land Reserves should be used to create revenue. This was to be done by establishing a land company, with Galt, the outspoken Scottish novelist, as its Superintendent(5).

Land companies had been used in America and Australia to develop unpopulated regions(6). Its role was to attract settlers by preparing the land, providing employment for immigrants, making loans to settlers, promoting Canadian land overseas and improving on communication and agriculture in the province(7).

At the request of Bishop Strachan, the Clergy Reserves were removed from the agreement(8). Therefore at the time of the company’s founding in August 1826, they owned 1 100 000 acres (including the Huron Tract), for which they paid sixteen annual payments of approximately 15 000 pounds sterling to the Receiver General of Upper Canada(9).

Despite Stachan words of advice, Galt did not manage to endear himself to the Family Compact. The company directors in London lost faith in him, and Lieutenant-Governor Maitland saw him as unsound(10). He was later replaced by Thomas Mercer-Jones, future son-in-law of John Strachan(11).

Opinion seems to be divided as to whether the Canada Land Company was beneficial to Upper Canada. From 1826 until 1950 it brought new life to land settlement, and created large amounts of capital from which one third could be used for public works(12). However its establishment coincided with the immigration of the 1830s which brought people regardless of their overpriced land lots. Also Reformers were suspicious of the English stockholders who controlled the company from across the ocean(13).

…from the Town of York Historical Society


  1. Craig, p.134.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid., p.135.
  5. Ibid., p.137.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Clarence Karr, The Canada Land Company, The Early Years, (Ottawa: Ontario Historical Society Research Publications #3, 1974), p.9.
  8. Craig, p.136.
  9. Ibid., p.135.
  10. Ibid., p.137
  11. Ibid., p.138.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Ibid.


Image Credit:
City of Toronto – Toronto Culture, Museums and Heritage Services, Reference No. 1978.41.60

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photo credit: Fanshaw Pioneer Park

photo credit: Fanshawe Pioneer Village

This instrument had a high back with a receptacle for music books or sheets. On each side was a circular stand on which if necessary a coal-oil lamp was placed to throw light on the music. Above was a shelf to hold photos or ornaments. No sound was produced unless the foot pedals were worked to blow the bellows inside the organ. The sound could be controlled by pulling out stops above the keyboard.

In front of the organ was a round stool. The top screwed into a base, so that its height could be adjusted to suit the musician’s length of limb. The children found the organ stoll an exciting article on which to whirl about.


photo credit: Wellington County Museum and Archives


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The History of Simcoe County  – Andrew F. Hunter, 1863 – 1940

The year 1839 was the Centenary of Methodism – the one hundredth year after Wesley established his first societies in England for the promotion of religious work.

The memorable event was celebrated in Upper Canada by holding in all the principal congregations, Centenary meetings, each of which was attended and addressed by a deputation of divines appointed for the purpose.

Simcoe county was included in the district apportioned to the Revs. William Case, Joseph Stinson, M. Richer, M.A., and William Ryerson. An important centenary meeting in the annals of local Methodism was held at Kempenfeldt, and it created a deep interest amongst the adherents of this denomination. This meeting was central both as to its locality and as to the interest manifested in its proceedings.

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