A New Beginning in 1792

Burlington Gazette – History by Helen Langford

A New Beginning in 1792
Tues., January 3, 1978

The new year, 1792, arrived bright, crisp and clear under a full moon over Quebec City. The newly appointed Lieutenant-Governor and Lady Simcoe had arrived in late autumn forcing them to spend the winter in the Lower Province to await the spring thaws and renewed navigation on the St. Lawrence River. They brought the two youngest of their six children and quantities of camping equipment suitable for life in the woods. The large tents were to be used as their home at Niagara for many long months.

Most of Burlington was still owned by the Mississaugas. Augustus Jones had surveyed East Flamborough. The land west of the Purchase Line (approximately a line along Francis Rd., Job’s Lane angled north to Arthur) had been granted for military service. Plains Rd. is the concession road between the Broken Front lots along the bay and Concession 1 north of Plains Road. Concession 2 extends up over the escarpment. These differ from the survey later done in Nelson Township. 

As far as we know, David Fonger was the only resident of the area. His farm bordered the old portage or ‘Carrying Place’ used by all early travellers to get from the bay to Lake Medad area.

Dr. Robert Kerr, surgeon to the Indian Department, had received 1000 acres on the north shore of Burlington Bay, for his war services. Dr. Kerr’s wife was Elizabeth, daughter of Sir William Johnson and Molly Brant (Joseph’s sister). This family knew many of our settlers at Johnston Hall in the Mohawk Valley before and during the War of Independence. The Brant and Kerr families were tied again when Robert Kerr’s son William Johnson married Joseph Brant’s daughter Elizabeth. (These are the two that are buried in St. Luke’s Cemetery). 

In 1793, Charles King bought Lots 1 and 2, in the Broken Front and Conc. 1 and 2 from Dr. Robert Kerr. The original document is still held by the King family, and states that Dr. Kerr received 150 pounds for this large tract extending from the bay to the escarpment, west of Francis Rd. to approximately the creek (beside Tim Horton’s Donut shop). Charles King apparently bought this in conjunction with a fellow carpenter at Fort Erie, George Chisholm, recently arrived from New Brunswick. 

The stage is now ready for a decade of rapid changes in our area. The province of Upper Canada is official; Simcoe by 1793 has convened two parliaments – one in Kingston.and the last one at Niagara. Charles King, George Chisholm, and William Applegarth have settled in East Flamborough ready to apply their special talents and enterprise in an abundant, fertile wilderness.

Source: Langford, Helen. Burlington Gazette [Ontario], 3 Jan. 1978. Microfilm. Burlington Public Library – Central Branch. Reel 50.

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