Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Exploring Mitchell's Directory

The end of a stage is in sight. This morning I have reached the letter "W" in matching the adult inhabitants of York Township to Mitchell's Directory of Toronto, published in 1864. Matching the inhabitants of Toronto itself to the city directory was completed some months ago.

Maybe it is getting to the end that sent me into hysterics about this entry found on page 180 of the directory:

Henry WHITE, explorer; 22 Nassau Street, St Patrick's

My first thought was, "Did he find it?" with the mind boggling about what there might be to look for on Nassau Street. But I've decided that "explorer" is a typo.

The census gives a much more sensible entry:

Henry WHITE, surveyor, 39, m, 5 children, Nassau Street, St Patrick's

It just shows that us census transcribers don't make all the mistakes.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Was Yonge Street Paved with Gold?

I have just found another family who must have improved their lot by moving.

In the 1861 census Ambrose Kent was a bricklayer in his early forties with two sons at home--Ambrose, 17, and Benjamin, 15. A third young man living with the family, but probably not a son, was Joseph who was working as a bricklayer. No occupations were given for Ambrose jr and Benjamin. They lived in Division Five of the Township which stretches northwest from Dufferin and Eglinton to the Humber River in the vicinity of Weston.

In Mitchell's Directory, compiled in 1863, Ambrose Kent was a grocer at 288 Yonge Street, i.e., in the middle of today's Eaton Centre. Ambrose jr and Benjamin were with him--Ambrose jr still didn't have an occupation, but Benjamin was now a watchmaker. John Kent (not found in the census) appeared next door at 286-1/2. There is a Joseph Kent on Walton Street (north of Gerrard but easy walking distance from Yonge and Queen). No other people of the surname Kent appear in the Directory.

There were two other Kent households in York Township, once again in Division Five. William, age 28, was another bricklayer, and F G Kent, described as a gentleman, age 47, with a wife nine years older than himself. Was this couple the source of capital for Ambrose's move?