Regulated Life in old muddy York

York, Upper Canada, the future Toronto in 1803. Unknown artist. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231,F1231_it0897. Wikimedia Commons.

York (Toronto), bakers were required to “stamp each Loaf or Biscuit” with their initials, and homeowners were required to keep a ladder leaning against the eves, as stipulated in “REGULATIONS for the POLICE,” published in the Upper Canada Gazette, September 11, 1817.

Life for the 800 people of muddy York, the capital of Upper Canada, was closely regulated.

In addition to initialling every loaf and biscuit, bakers had to obtain a licence to sell their products and post “sureties” of £200 to ensure conformity with regulations, which were to be maintained in a book by “the clerk of the Market.” The clerk was also required “to keep an account of the prices of Flour.”

No slaughterhouse could be erected in York without special permission.

“No Chips, Shaving or Rubbish of any description, to be thrown into the Street, or on the Front of the Town… No person to Gallop or Ride, or Drive a Horse or Horses, at an unreasonable rate in the Streets of the Town.”

“No Wagon, Cart or Carriage of any description, to be left standing in the Street, or any Fire Wood, or Timber, or other encumbrance to be allowed to remain in the Street for a longer period than twenty-four hours,” except that half the street could be blocked by building material during construction of new buildings, “leaving a clear passage on the Foot Way.”

Hogs or swine running at large were to be impounded, and after three days’ notice, sold at public auction, unless claimed by owners who were required to pay fines and fees charged by the Keeper of the Pound.

Fire fighting regulations were fairly extensive. In addition to a ladder extending two feet above the eves, every house was to have “two or more roof ladders, suspended by iron fastenings from the ridge of the roof to the eves.” Small ladders were required at chimneys rising more than three feet from the roof. Chimneys were to be swept clean every six weeks, under the direction of the Inspector of Chimneys; from November to April for chimneys used only for winter heating, but year-round for kitchen and other chimneys. Homeowners had to pay the Chimney Inspector “seven pence halfpenny for each chimney or flue so swept.”

Every house was to have “two or more good and serviceable Leathern Buckets capable of containing three gallons each which shall be hung up and exposed to view in the most convenient place nearest the front entrance of the said house to be in readiness to assist in the extinguishing of Fires.” If Leathern Buckets were not available, “Wooden or Tin Pails” would do.

“Four discreet and active persons” were to be appointed Fire Wardens. The wardens were “authorized to command and enforce, with the help of the Constables and other Peace Officers, the aid and assistance of all the male inhabitants of the Town, between the years of 16 and 60, and to preserve as far as possible, order, regularity and dispatch in the lines, for the supply of water; to appoint and establish guards for the preservation of furniture and other effects, from injury and pillage.”

Varying fines were stipulated for any infractions of the police regulations.

Unfamiliar Canadian history stories 006

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