Tag Archives: History

United Empire Loyalist Association of Canada Genealogist Doug Grant

11 Feb

Lunch with Mary 049

Date of lunch:
Friday, February 11, 2011

The company:
Doug Grant is a member of the United Empire Loyalists Association of Canada, the editor of Loyalist Trails and the genealogist for the Governor Simcoe branch of the UELAC. He is also my 5th cousin once removed (or 4th or 6th or 7th – I need to do a bit more research into my family tree). Doug is a descendent of loyalists and both him and I descend from the same loyalist, Michael Warner, who came to New York Province in the mid-1700s. Being loyal to the British Empire cost him his home in the American Revolution, but for that loyalty, Michael was given land in Canada for free by the king.

The food:
We ate at Mangia e Bevi, which I just found on Google when looking for a restaurant in the King and Sherbourne area. And what a discovery! It’s actually pretty hard to locate because it’s back from the street across a parking lot but it is awesome. The restaurant smells delicious and has a main dining area, as well as a smaller room for larger groups. The décor is very cool. Once we saw how huge the pizzas were, we decided to split a pizza and a salad. We had the Four Stagioni pizza which has mushrooms, prosciutto, artichoke hearts and olives, as well as a Caprese salad with tomatoes and boccaccini cheese. I had a ginger ale and Doug had a small Steam Whistle. Total bill was $35 with tax.

The lunch lesson:
The lesson from this lunch actually is not something I learned at the lunch but more the spirit behind the lunch itself. I am just glad that I have taken this step to learn more about my family’s history. At times in high school I will admit that I found my Canadian history class a bit boring. I also didn’t know about the whole loyalist family connection thing yet either. But knowing now that I am part of this history, as we are all part of history, really does make it that much more interesting, and I think everyone should take the time, if they can, and learn a little more about where they came from.

The lunch:
My grandfather, Roger Warner, passed away in November. I went back to Ottawa for the funeral and we drove to the area where my family comes from along the St. Lawrence River. The Warners have a lot of history in the area – from Cornwall to Russell and beyond. My great-grandmother’s farm actually no longer exists because it is now underwater in the expanded St. Lawrence seaway – it was flooded in the fifties. When I was in the area and at the cemetery, I saw how rich my family history was and how little I knew about it and I decided I wanted to learn more. I knew that we did descend from loyalists so I emailed the association and Doug wrote back and indicated that his mother was a Warner and we are, in fact, related. Crazy.

The story of how the loyalists ended up coming to be is quite interesting. And Doug was very patient in explaining it to me and I hope I can at least summarize a bit of it accurately. The British soldiers –  both professionals and loyalist regiments raised from the local population – were fighting against the rebels (Patriots). It was basically a civil war. My loyalist ancestor, Michael Warner, was a member of the loyalist King’s Royal Regiment of New York. As the countryside fell out of Britain’s control, the loyalists’ lands were confiscated. Loyalties were divided, towns were divided, families were divided. The loyalist soldiers and families had to leave and go to British-held areas where many of them lived in refugee camps, several of which were located in what is now Canada.

At war’s end, in order to provide for the loyalist soldiers and their families who could not return to their former homes, the king granted them land. Members of the King’s Royal Regiment of New York were  settled along along the St. Lawrence River.  In the following years, to keep these families loyal, the king also granted land to their sons and daughters right until the mid-1800s.

So we know that Michael Warner stayed loyal and received land from the king. Documents haven’t been completely clear as to where exactly it was although we know it was in Osnabruk Township in Stormont County and many believe it is now underwater along with my family’s land.

My mother was born in Italy and because her family history was so far away, we did go to Italy a few times in my youth to see where my mom grew up, meet our cousins and learn about her history. So it’s funny that there was such rich Warner history just an hour or so away from where I grew up and I never took the time to learn it all. I guess Italy always seemed more glamorous (it is pretty awesome) but I am glad that I now know a bit more about my dad’s side and I am very grateful to Doug for giving me a little glimpse of the rich history that I hope to learn.

Oh and the neat part is that Doug signs his name with UE (United of the Empire) at the end and I have since learned that I can do the same.

Sincerely,

Mary Warner, UE

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St. Lawrence Market Official Historian Bruce Bell

12 Nov

Lunch with Mary 025

Date of lunch:
Thursday, November 12, 2009

The company:
Bruce Bell is the official historian of St. Lawrence Market and St. Lawrence Hall. He conducts tours of the market, the hall and also does walking tours of the area. He has also been appointed official historian of Toronto’s King Edward Hotel, Honourary Historian of the Hockey Hall of Fame Heritage Building and Curator in Residence for the Dominion Bank Building. Bruce is full of awesome facts about Toronto and he is fascinating to hang out with. I learned so much. It really is a treat to be a tourist in your own city.

The food:
Bruce told me I HAD to have a peameal bacon sandwich from Carousel Bakery. The sandwich is famous (even Bobby Flay and Emeril Lagasse have eaten them) and, once I confirmed that I wasn’t vegetarian, Bruce ordered one up for me. We also ordered two Diet Cokes and then Bruce got a hot dog from Mano’s Meats. The peameal bacon sandwich was delish, I will definitely have to get another one next time I am there. The total bill for both our lunches was $11 with tax.

The lunch lesson:
When I returned from my lunch and shared my lunch lesson with some of my co-workers, apparently a lot of people already knew this – but I hope I’m not the only one who didn’t and hopefully my lunch lesson is news to some. So Front Street is called “Front” because it used to be at the edge of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence Market building used to be right at the water’s edge. News to me. But it gets more interesting. The land that now extends south of the Front Street is built on landfill – that’s right – GARBAGE! All those condos that are blocking the view of the lake? Built on garbage. Amazing. Can you believe it?

The lunch:
Bruce and I grabbed our food first and ate it upstairs in the Market Kitchen – it’s an amazing space with a great view of the market. Then Bruce took me on a tour and I became a tourist in Toronto for the first time. And Bruce told me, his condo is his dressing room, the city is his stage. And I was about to walk right onto it!

First we walked down to the old façade of City Hall. I am obviously naïve about Toronto because I thought Old City Hall was the old city hall. I was wrong. There is an even older one and its façade still remains inside the South Building of the market. Next to city hall, there used to be a police station and downstairs was both a men’s and women’s prison. Bruce took me down to the prison area where only a wall remains. But you can still see the pegs in the wall where the prisoners were hung up by their arms. It looked like it was a pretty awful place.

Bruce then took me across the street to the North Market – a much more modern building with much less history. But the timing of my visit was perfect. On the morning of our lunch the City of Toronto launched the St. Lawrence Market North Building Design Competition to find the best design for a new, vibrant North Market building. I can’t wait to see what will happen to the space. With all the history in the area, there will be a lot of pressure to make it incredible.

After the South Market, Bruce took me to St. Lawrence Hall, a building that I have walked by before but never really knew about. It is a beautiful building with wide staircases and intricate woodwork on the walls. There is a ballroom space that can be rented out and it is always in use for speaking engagements, corporate events, weddings and more. In the past, the space was used for boxing matches, which is pretty awesome when you see how fancy the room is.

Finally we walked back towards the South Market through the Market Square. I have walked this path a lot of times, even once working at the Rib Festival right in the square. But I had no idea that this is where prisoners were brought to be flogged by the public and across the street, public hangings were held. Bruce said that thousands would show up for these public hangings – they were popular events. So strange. At the north end of the market square there is a well. Bruce explained to me that this was where the women would meet in the mornings and it was a social gathering hot spot. Much like the St. Lawrence Market is today.

Bruce just knows so much and can’t help but share his passion for the history of Toronto. He was even telling me some of the Free Mason aspects of Toronto’s architecture, including the Royal York Hotel and the Flat Iron building. I just wanted to learn more. I highly recommend taking a tour with Bruce, it is fascinating. Now I just need to continue my quest to be a tourist in Toronto. Any tips?