Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe arrived in Upper Canada with his wife, Elizabeth Gwillimbury, in June of 1792.
His first task was to establish a new capital of Upper Canada in Toronto. He garrisoned troops of the Queen’s Rangers to survey and build. Simcoe and his wife lived in a spacious, airy, canvas tent on the rocky shoreline of Toronto Bay.
John-Baptiste Rousseaux lived at the mouth of the Humber River, where he traded with the natives. He acted as an interpreter and guide to Simcoe. He told Simcoe about the Carrying Place Trail from the mouth of the Humber, north to the Holland River and Lake Simcoe. It was a well-worn trail that had been used by the natives for many, many years.
In September 1793, Simcoe embarked on an expedition on horseback north, northwest on the Carrying Place Trail. The party wrote about their journey. They ate wild grapes and crayfish. They travelled through woods full of maple, cedar, bass, beech and pine. They noted the many creeks and streams that fed into the Humber River and the soil that they thought would someday support farms.
After many days, they came upon canoes, made for them by the natives for their expedition on Lake Simcoe. The land was swampy and they had to drag the canoes through the muck, and then paddle through the reeds along the Holland River until they came upon the lake.
On entering the lake in Cook Bay, they saw two canoes paddling toward a native village on a point. The party paddled to that point, (now de Grassi), and met with the natives.
After dining and receiving gifts from the natives, they re-embarked and, there being a breeze, hoisted a sail and travelled about six miles north to a point with many cedars. (Probably now called Big Cedar Point or Innisfil Beach Park).
The next day, Oct. 1, 1793, they paddled past a deep, western bay, (Kempenfelt Bay) and on to the narrows where, in 1615, Champlain and Brule had departed south with their Huron war party. The narrows are between Lake Simcoe and Lake Couchiching.
This blog gives a taste of the wonderful history of which Lake Simcoe is full. Until next time….
• Simcoe named Lake Simcoe after his father, John Simcoe.
• Simcoe named Cook Bay after Captain Cook the famous explorer.
• Simcoe named the Holland River after Canada’s Dutch-born surveyor-general, Samuel Johannes Holland.
• Simcoe named Kempenfelt Bay after Robert Kempenfelt, one of his father’s military colleagues.
I recommend reading Walking into Wilderness by Heather Robertson.