The talented Mrs. Simcoe
John Graves Simcoe
Simcoe Street first appeared on the 1922 map, when Grey Street was one block north of Simcoe, and Peel Street one block south. But Grey and Peel streets have disappeared. Simcoe was named in honour of John Graves Simcoe, the first lieutenant governor of Upper Canada, from 1791 to 1796.
John Graves Simcoe and Elizabeth Posthuma Graves Gwillin were married in Devon in 1782. They had 11 children. John Graves was educated at Eton and Oxford and served in the British Army in America during the American Revolutionary War. He he commanded the Queens Rangers until being invalided back to England.
With the passing of the constitutional act in 1791, Simcoe was appointed the lieutenant governor of Upper Canada. Arriving in Quebec in 1772, he chose Newark as the capital of his government and moved the government offices to York (Toronto) in 1774.
Elizabeth Simcoe kept a detailed diary, a day-by-day record of all their travels and activities. The record was written by Ross Robertson and published by William Briggs in 1911. Her diaries make fascinating reading, with every detail of pioneer life in Upper Canada. She mailed her diaries home to England to her four oldest children every two weeks. All the children were all under the age of seven. Her work is crammed with information which is found nowhere else.
Elizabeth was also a talented amateur artist who made hundreds of watercolours, pen sketches and pencil drawings. After his return to England, Simcoe presented 32 of her sepia drawings to King George III. They are preserved in the royal library in the British Museum, and there are 90 in Robertson's book. By Stanford Dingman
For a fascinating trip around Ontario with paintings by Elizabeth see: Travels With Elizabeth Simcoe. A Visual Journey through Upper and Lower Canada. * Hear a description of her Journey, March 15, 1792. Listen
Queenston Barracks 1793
York Barracks 1796
Lake Huron 1996