Thursday, 18 June 2009

Out of the Chaos

The census form which suffered the greatest damage that I told you about in my last post turned out to hold the records for three very interesting people. The head of the household was John Cameron, who called himself a banker. Directories of the time called him a banking agent. He was probably a brother of Angus Cameron, president of the Bank of Toronto.

Below his family was Rev John Barclay, D.D., pastor of St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, then located at the corner of Church and Adelaide East. Dr Barclay was 48 and a bachelor.

The third was probably someone who was in Toronto for only a short time. He was described on the census form as A G Davis, electrician—an American of 27 with his main residence in Montreal. An electrician in 1861? Edison was yet to discover the light bulb. The answer was in Column 47, a column usually left blank, but in this case it expanded on the occupation to “sup’t, Grand Trunk Telegraph Lines”.

Telegraph as a means of communication was probably younger in 1861 than the internet is today. Mr Davis was in charge of stringing the wire on all those poles that accompany North American railway lines, the equivalent of our high speed carbon-fibre cables which bring you this message.

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