Britain created the province of Upper Canada in 1791 for Loyalist refugees flooding into the upper St Lawrence and lower Great Lakes after the American Revolution. John Graves Simcoe, the first lieutenant governor, relocated the provincial capital to Toronto, renamed York to honour the Duke of York, second son of King George III.
Here, Simcoe established a fort and naval base, a 10-block town and Yonge Street. He also offered free land grants to encourage settlement.
York on Lake Ontario, 1812
During the War of 1812, York was invaded by American forces; both the fort and the legislature were destroyed.
British immigration increased after the war, and York became a wholesale and banking centre.
Plan of York, 1818
Front Street West looking north from lake, 1820
York from Gibraltar Point, 1828
|In 1834, the fast-growing town of 9,000 residents was incorporated as the city of Toronto with William Lyon Mackenzie as mayor.
City of Toronto and Liberties map, 1834
King Street, Toronto, 1835
Front Street West, 1835
Winter Scene on Toronto Bay, 1835
The prominent Reform journalist and politician led a rebellion against the ruling class, and attempted to seize the city in 1837. Government forces defeated the rebels, but their goal of responsible government was soon realized.