The First Innkeeper

Burlington Gazette - History by Helen Langford

The First Innkeeper
Tues., February 28, 1978

Imagine having to obtain an Innkeeper’s Licence in 1806! Bureaucracy even then! Augustus Bates bought an Innkeeper’s Licence good for 1 year (1806). The original copy was given to the Ontario Archives by Mr. W..A. Bates of Freelton. About 1800, Augustus arrived in Upper Canada upon is brother William’s invitation. It is presumed that his friend Joseph Brant allowed Augustus to build on our lakeshore.

We do know that he bought part of Brant’s Block after the death of Joseph Brant - 200 acres bordering the lake, west of Brant Street, he built a two-storey frame structure on the edge of the creek which now runs beside The Provincial Court on Elgin St. The creek tumbled down the high lake bank - a marvellous sight from the lake.

One of Augustus’ sons, Walter, recalled that he came .to Upper Canada in late 1800 and settled in what is now Burlington. Walter remembered the plentiful fish and game on the beach and around Brant’s Pond - he killed 80 pigeons with one shot when he was a boy! He saw the British and American fleets lying off Burlington. 

During the winter of 1813, the Indians attached to General Proctor’s army were ordered to winter at the head of Lake Ontario. They seem to have spread themselves all over the farms of our settlers from Applegarth to Bates. There are many claims for losses on record. Young Walter remembered Indians lying all over the floor so thick that a one could hardly step and wouldn’t dare say a word to affront them. Apparently Augustus lost most of his rail fences. They used the rails to burn the bodies. The following is a list of Augustus Bates losses from this ‘winter over’.

  • Cut and destroyed the principal part of his most choice timber, amounting to 2,600 valuable trees, consisting of Oak, Ash, Chestnut, Hickory and other hard wood, for the purpose of building 147 camps including a large dancing house and for firewood - £650
  • Burning 4,000 Rails - £40
  • Acres of Wheat destroyed valued at 15 bushels per acre - £75
  • Tons of hay taken for their horses - £19
  • In consequence of his fences being burnt, 30 acres of improved land lay open to the commons from the spring 1814, until the spring 1815 - which put it out of his power to raise bread for his family that year - damage £100
  • 1 cow taken by the Chippewa Tribe - £10
  • 5 Swine, average 150 each - £28
  • 6 Sheep - £12
  • Barrel of Spirits containing 38 ½ gallons taken by the Delaware Indians - £59

However, Augustus did not receive all that he claimed. For example he only received £65 instead of £650 for his loss of wood.

Source: Langford, Helen. Burlington Gazette [Ontario], 28 Feb 1978. Microfilm. Burlington Public Library - Central Branch. Reel 50.