Township of York (East) ‘L’ and ‘M’ surnames from A History of Toronto and County of York

HUGH LAIRD, deceased, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1803 and when eleven years of age came to Canada with his father. The latter settled in Halton County and Hugh, the subject of this sketch, came to York where he lived with Mr. Alexander Milne for some time. In 1835 he bought one hundred acres of land on lot 7, concession 2, which he cleared, fenced and continued to cultivate until his death in 1884. He married Miss Milne, daughter of Alexander Milne, his former employer, by whom he had six children. Hugh Laird, the only son, was born in 1844, and now has possession of the old homestead. (vol. II, p. 194)

T. LAMBERT is a native of Yorkshire, England, and was born in 1840, emigrating to Canada in 1872, and was first employed by Jacques & Hay, with whom he stayed three years. He then purchased five acres on lot 5, concession 2, where he erected a dwelling and hot houses, and has gone largely into market gardening and the growth of small fruits. In 1861 he married Miss Mary Farrar Boyes, by whom he has six children. (vol. II, p. 194)

ROBERT LAWRENCE was born in Gloucestershire, England, in 1814, and in 1854 emigrated to Canada, and settled in the Township of York. In 1868 he purchased his present home on lot 18, concession 3, where he is largely engaged in market-gardening. In 1844 he married Miss Mary Case Townsend, Gloucestershire, England, by whom he had twelve children, six of whom are living. (vol. II, p. 194)

JOHN LEA, the subject of this sketch, was the second son of John Lea, deceased, who came to Canada in 1818, and took up two hundred acres of land on lot 13, concession 3. He was born in 1823, and has always remained on the old homestead, of which he owns a part, owning one hundred and ten acres on lot 12 and fifty acres on lot 24, his farm containing in all one hundred and eighty acres, devoted principally to farming, stock-raising and fruit-growing. In 1870 Mr. Lea married Miss Mary, daughter of James Charles, who was a long time engaged in the wholesale dry goods in Toronto; he has two sons and one daughter. (vol. II, p. 194)

WILLIAM LEA, the subject of this sketch, was born in Lancashire, England, on the 28th of May, in the year 1814, and came to America with his father and mother in 1818. John Lea, his father, was born in Lancashire in 1773; Mary, his mother, was born in Cumberland. They sailed from Liverpool in the spring of 1818, in a barque commanded by one Captain Birkett, and after tossing about on the Atlantic three months arrived in Philadelphia, where they remained only a short time; then travelled in a stage coach over the Alleghany mountains to Pittsburg, where they remained a year. Not liking the country or people of the United States, the father went to Canada in search of a suitable place to settle in. William, with his mother, coming on to Niagara, travelled along the shore of Lake Erie, crossed the Niagara River at Black Rock and on past the Falls, the sound of which he remembered hearing. The first thing that gave his mother courage was seeing the British soldiers in their scarlet uniforms at Niagara, which was in 1819. When his father had found a place to his liking, in the Township of York, he informed his wife of his purchase of lot 13, concession 3 from the bay. She, with her son, crossed Lake Ontario in a schooner belonging to one Garside (the only steamboat at that time being the Frontenac), and on arriving at York they went to the farm, which consisted of a small log-house and a few acres cleared, the rest of the two hundred acre lot being heavily timbered. In the course of time they bought cows and kept a diary, and planted an orchard. In 1829 his father built a brick-house, the only one then in the township, in which his brother, John Lea, now lives. John Lea, sen’r, died December, 1854, aged eighty-one years. He left his son William ninety acres of the old homestead, and John one hundred and ten, including the house, orchard and all the out-buildings. William, in 1841, purchased part of lot 12, concession 3 from the bay, containing one hundred and thirty acres, on which he and his family reside. In 1841 he married Mary Ann, second daughter of James Taylor, from Tadington, Derbyshire, England, by whom he had two daughters, both dying in infancy. Their mother soon followed, dying within three years of her marriage. In 1848 he married Elizabeth, the eldest daughter of Charles Kendrick Davids, a gentleman from Dartford, Kent, England, by whom he had three sons and four daughters, who are all living; their mother died in 1867. In 1870 he married his present wife, Sophia, relict of John Samuel Blogg, of Canterbury, England, and fourth daughter of Charles Kendrick Davids, of Dartford, Kent, England, now deceased. He, with two of his sons, carries on farming, fruit-growing and farm gardening. In 1850 he was elected to the office of Township Councillor in the place of John Eastwood, who died during the latter part of that year. He held the office for seven successive years thereafter. During the administration of Government by Lord Elgin he was appointed a Justice of the Peace, which position he still holds, having been reappointed as each commission was issued. He also wrote (being a member of the York Pioneers Society) a history of the early settlement of the River Don, with the business and milling industries carried on up to the present time, extracts from which appear in the first volume of this work. (vol. II, p. 195)

GEORGE LESLIE, of Leslieville. William Leslie, the father of our subject, was of Scottish origin, his birth-place and that of his family being in the Parish of Roquart, Sutherlandshire, Scotland. He was reared upon a farm, and when a young man joined the Rothshire Militia, and served in the County of Tyrone, Ireland, where he married Catharine, eldest daughter of James Beatty, and sister of the Rev. John Beatty, of Cobourg. After his regiment was disbanded he returned home and engaged in agricultural pursuits until October, 1826, when he emigrated to Canada with a family of eight children, and joined the Rev. John Beatty at Streetsville. He settled upon two hundred acres, lot 14, concession 12, of York Township, a portion of which he cleared and improved. In 1837 he commanded a company of York Militia, and served during the campaign. Many years later he drew a pension from the Crown for his services in Ireland. He died in 1877 at Streetsville, leaving a family of eight children. He was a strong Conservative in politics. George Leslie, of Leslieville, was the second son in his father’s family. He was born in Sutherlandshire in 1804, and was twenty-one years of age when he left home and came to York, where he entered the service of the late Hon. George Crookshanks, Commissary General. He remained with him one season, and then for several years acted in the capacity of gardener and florist to the Hon. William Allen, and the Hon. John Henry Dunne, Receiver General. In 1830 he purchased from the Rev. James Beatty, at Streetsville, the old homestead previosly occupied by his father, a portion of which he cleared and improved. In 1837 he removed to Toronto, and took up his residence in an old frame house on King Street East, it being the place where he and Caroline, eldest daughter of Calvin Davis, passed the first nine years of their wedded life, which began in 1836. He soon after established himself in business as a grocer and seed merchant. His first stock of seeds was brought from London, England. Seven years later he transferred his business to the corner of Yonge and Colborne Streets, upon the present site of the Bank of Commerce, where he remained until 1845, when the city purchased the property for $5,000. He then leased from Mr. Charles Small twenty acres of land east of the Don, for a period of twenty-one years; he purchased the land two years later, and, by subsequent purchases, added to it until he now has two hundred acres in a good state of cultivation. Upon this land he began business as a nurseryman, florist, and gardener. The business has increased rapidly until his nursery is now the largest in the Dominion. A portion of his land was surveyed into lots and sold to settlers, thus forming the nucleus of a village. In 1851 he was commissioned Post-master of Leslieville Post-office, which office he still holds. Two years later he was commissioned a magistrate by the Hon. Robert Baldwin, the duties of which office he has ever since discharged with fidelity. When the first fire company was formed in York he became a member. Our subject is at the present time one of the oldest horticulturists in the Dominion, and has been an active member of the Agricultural Society for many years. Although a strong Reformer, he has never neglected his business to engage in political strife. He has two sons and two daughters. His eldest daughter, Caroline, married the eldest son of the Rev. Dr. Jennings, now in charge of the Bank of Commerce at Paris. His second daughter, Esther, married Alexander McDonald Allan, son of the Rev. Mr. Allan, of Goderich, who formerly published the Signal at that place. The eldest son, George, is in partnership with his father in the nursery business, and also a magistrate and Commissioner for taking affidavits. He has been Reeve for the Township of York for five years, and represented St. Lawrence Ward in the City Council for two years. John Knox, the second son, is Clerk of the Township of York, and resides at Eglinton. (vol. II, p. 196)

JAMES LESSLIE. The events embodied in that portion of Canadian history which occupied the period immediately preceding, and that which followed, the Rebellion of 1837-8 had the effect of bringing many men into publicity who, but for the extreme display of faction which those events created, would most likely have desired to keep aloof from public affairs. To this class of men the subject of this brief memoir belonged, and having in early life formed an intimate acquaintance with the leader of that Rebellion, it would be strange indeed if he had failed to imbibe some of the strong political principles that lay then undeveloped in the mind of William Lyon Mackenzie. James Lesslie was born at Dundee, Scotland, in 1802, being the son of Edward and Grace (Watson) Lesslie. His father was a bookseller and stationer, and being what is known as well-provisioned in life gave his family a good education, of which, as results proved, James took no small advantage. In the year 1820 Mr. Lesslie, sen’r, decided on emigration, and chartered a vessel which was to convey himself and large family, numbering twelve souls in all, together with household effects and his goods, to the New World. Owing to the illness of the mother, however, they were detained some months; but, in the meantime, the second eldest son, John, in company with William Lyon Mackenzie – who had previously been in the employ of Mr. Lesslie, sen’r, as book-keeper – sailed for Canada, and by the time the remainder of the family arrived, he was already engaged in business in York, now Toronto. After a prolonged voyage of seventy days James, with a younger brother and sister, arrived at Kingston, where he remained. The rest of the family came out next year, going forward to York. Our subject commenced business in Kingston in the book and stationery line, which he conducted there for four years, removing from thence to York, John going to Dundas, where a branch of the business was opened. This was in 1826, and in 1833 the firm, Lesslie & Sons, purchased property near the locality of the Globe office, and thereon erected their business premises. The causes which contributed to the Rebellion were at this time shaping themselves, and thinking men admitted the approach of a great crisis. Mr. Lesslie’s sympathies were undoubtedly with the Reformers, though no evidence is apparent that he gave any active assistance to the rebels; but this fact did not prevent him from being subjected to persecution by the parties in power during the week of the Rebellion. His premises were taken possession of by the Government, and he himself arrested and imprisoned, with his brother William. They were released after an incarceration of a fortnight and enabled to return to their business. A few weeks after William, going on business by stage to Montreal, was again arrested and imprisoned in Kingston Jail without any charge against him and treated as a criminal for about ten days. About the period of the arrival of Lord Durham as Governor-General, the publication of the Examiner commenced by Sir Francis Hincks, which afterwards came into the hands of Mr. Lesslie in 1844, and was conducted by him for ten years, until the settlement of the question of the Clergy Reserves. He was also connected with the Peoples’ Bank – the first Bank on the Scotch principle in Upper Canada – and for five years held the position of President. He was commissioned a Justice of the Peace, and was an Alderman of the first City Council. In 1858 he retired from business, and took up his residence at his rural retreat in Eglinton, and now, in his eighty-second year, he devotes his well-earned leisure to books and the management of a small farm. (vol. II, p. 197)

JAMES LONG, deceased, was born in the County Armagh, Ireland, in 1809, and when ten years of age came to Canada with his father. Some years later he bought land on lot 19, concession 4, which he improved and cultivated until his death in 1871. A few years before his death he added one hundred and twenty-five acres on lots 18 and 20, concession 4. He married Miss Harriet Hough, by whom he had eight children. George H., the youngest son, was born on the homestead in 1840, which he now owns. He married in 1875 Miss Hannah Haron, daughter of Robert Haron, of Scarboro’, by whom he has six children. (vol. II, p. 199)

JOHN McLATCHIE was born in Ayrshire, Scotland, in 1848. In 1858 he went to Ireland, and remained some years, then emigrated to Canada, and first located in the Township of Scarboro’, where he worked at his trade of blacksmith for two years. He afterwards came to Toronto where he has resided ever since. In 1879 he purchased his present property in Leslieville where he carries on a large carriage-making and blacksmith business, his buildings occupying sixty-five feet by five hundred feet in depth. (vol. II, p. 199)

THOMAS MERCER, deceased, was born in County Down, Ireland, in 1744, and came to the United States at an early day. He settled in Philadelphia, where he remained until 1793, and then coming to Canada, he, in 1796, took up two hundred acres of land on lot 10, concession 1, East York. The journey from Philadelphia was made overland, Mr. Mercer bringing with him a cow from his old settlement. He remained on his farm in York until his death in 1829. He married Susan Jordan, of Hillsborough, County Down, Ireland, the union resulting in seven children. Thomas, his second son, was born in Philadelphia in 1792, and came with his parents to Canada, always remaining on the old farm, which he cleared and considerably improved. He died in 1873. His wife was Catharine, daughter of John O’Reilly, of Drummondsville, near Niagara, who died in 1868, leaving five children. Thomas Hamilton, the eldest son, was born on the old homestead in 1822, where he has always resided, and which he now owns, and to which he has since added fifty acres. In 1863 he married Jane, daughter of William Graham, who came from Nova Scotia to Ontario in 1853. They had six children, five of whom are now living, viz.: Minnie A., Ada S., Alfred E.E., Bertha E.M., Wilfred H.O. (vol. II, p. 199)

JOHN MILLS was born in Lincolnshire, England, in 1825, and emigrated to Canada in 1848. He first settled in Thornhill, where he remained two years, subsequently removing to Toronto, and, taking charge of the Clyde Hotel, conducted that establishment from 1856 to 1878. After giving up the hotel business, he went to his farm known as the Clyde Cottage, on the Don and Danforth Road, where he cultived one hundred acres of land. In 1854 he married Mrs. Arnitt, a widow, who died four years later. He married again, his second wife being Priscilla, daughter of George Lambert, by whom he had eleven children, nine still living. (vol. II, p. 200)

ALEXANDER MILNE, deceased, was born in Forfarshire, Scotland, in 1777, and on emigrating to the United States in 1801 settled at Oyster Bay, Long Island, where he followed weaving, having at one time ten hand looms in operation, from which place the family removed to Duchess County, N.Y., where he had taken charge of a woolen mill, and in 1813 moved to New Jersey, and engaged in the cotton-bleaching business, having got out a patent for that process. He remained there four years, and on the recommendation of the British Consul at New York he came to Canada in 1817, locating on the east half of lot 5, concession 2, East York, where he took up five hundred acres of land. He erected a saw-mill in 1827, which he carried on for five years, but for want of power, he afterwards built another saw-mill on the east branch of the River Don in 1832, which was in successful operation uhntil after his death in 1877. In 1800 he married Miss Jane Gibson, also a native of Forfarshire, Scotland, who died in 1835 leaving seven children. Mr. Milne again married, his second wife being Mrs. Ann Kirk. William Milne, his eldest son, was born in Scotland in 1801, and always assisted his father to carry on the business; his wife was Jane Weatherstone, a native of Berwick-on-Tweed, by whom he had five sons and four daughters, eight of whom are now living. Alexander W. Milne, the eldest son of William Milne, was born on the old homestead in 1837, and was always interested in the business established by his grandfather, after whose death he, in company with his father, erected a large brick wollen mill on the same site, and adopted more improved machinery. Mr. William Milne’s death, which occurred in 1881, left the business in the hands of his son Alexander W. Milne, who is engaged in the business at this time. He was married in 1867 to Miss Harriet Margaret Heron, daughter of Richard Heron, by whom he has three sons and one daughter. (vol. II, p. 200)

JOSEPH H. MITCHELL is a native of London, England, where he was born in 1822. He early came to Canada, and for thirty-two years was foreman of a department in the establishment of Hay & Co. In 1859 he purchased five acres on lot 9, on which he grows fruit of every description. In 1850 he married Elizabeth Spence, sister of the Hon. Robert Spence, ex-Postmaster-General. (vol. II, p. 200)

THOMAS MITCHELL is a native of Devonshire, England, where he was born in 1822, and emigrating to Canada in 1849, located first in London, Middlesex County, where he was employed by Judge Allen. The Judge removing to Toronto after Mr. Mitchell had been in his service six months, he removed with him and continued in his employment for three years. He subsequently engaged with Mr. John Cull, as foreman in the Starch Factory, with whom he remained eight years. He then began business for himself as grocer on Kingston Road, and built the first brick store east of the Don (1858). This was on the corner of Kingston Road and Scadding Street, and was known as “Mitchell’s Corner”. In 1861 he purchased a lot on Market Square, Barrie, Ontario, and built thereon the Victoria Hotel, which he afterwards sold. In 1871 Mr. Mitchell retired from business which is now carried on by his son. He purchased a private residence known as Rose Lawn, in St. Matthew’s Ward, where he now lives in ease and comfort. Mr. Mitchell married in 1852 Miss Mary Ann Joslin, of Devonshire, England, by whom he has one son and four daughters. Once only since leaving it has Mr. Mitchell revisited his beautiful native county which, with pardonable pride, he maintains is the “Garden of the World”. This trip he made in 1874. (vol. II, p. 201)

JOHN MYERS, deceased, was born in Yorkshire, England, in 1807, and in 1830 emigrated to Canada, locating in the Township of East York, on lot 21, concession 4, which was then bush; this he cleared, fenced and made his home until his death in 1868. Mr. Myers also worked at his trade of shoemaking. He married Miss Jane Hopper, a native of Yorkshire, England, by whom he had thirteen children, four of whom are now living. Robert, the youngest son, resides in the county. He was born on the old homestead, which he now owns. In 1877 he married Miss Caroline, daughter of Robert Heron of Scarboro’, the issue of this union being three daughters. (vol. II, p. 201)