1833 Bonnycastle: No.2 Plan of Comparison [. . . ] - ‘Pier now erecting by the Provincial Government’

Both the length of the New Pier of 1833 (800 feet) and its location (at the mouth of the Garrison Creek) were determined primarily by its function. It was intended, by altering the currents in Toronto harbour, to slow down the silting that was threatening to make the basin inaccessible to large ships. Both Capt. Hugh Richardson, the Harbour-Master, and Capt. R.H. Bonnycastle, who headed the Royal Engineers in the Western District, reported on the problem, agreeing on the solution if not the cause.

Capt. Richardson was inclined to blame the Don which, “dribbled its puny waters into the great lake, [and] was, in importance, as the fly on the horn of a bull: but once embalmed by the formation of the peninsula became the grand agent of destruction to one of the finest harbours on the lake.” Bonnycastle saw things more in a millennial way, related to the wearing away of the Scarborough Bluffs.

The Legislative Assembly lost no time in voting £2,000 in February 1833 for the Improvement of York Harbour. Construction on the pier was under way by the end of the year. For all its length, it drew only 10 feet of water at its south end. Renamed the Queen's Wharf in 1837, it supplemented three existing wharfs in front of the city; the Navy or Commissariat Wharf at the foot of Peter Street; and two small docks at the fort itself.

On the plan below it is denoted as item D, Pier now erecting by the Provincial Government, His Excellency Sir John Colborne assenting to the Ordnance being at liberty to add to the end therof for the purpose of a Battery, if deemed necessary during His Administration of the Government. Note also far left the proposed construction method for the pier.

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1833 Bonnycastle No. 2 Plan of Comparison - showing the New Pier (Queen's Wharf)

No. 2 Plan of Comparison shewing, in yellow, the site of the new Barrack and Work around it at A; the Wharf B, and Tower C, proposed for the defence of the entrance of the Harbour of York, the Capital of Upper Canada and a chief Port for commerce on the Lake Ontario to be proceeded upon, if approved, as means shall be furnished from the Sale of that part of the Military Reserve given up for the improvement of the Town. Royal Engineer Office York, Upper Canada 31st October 1833 (Signed) R.H. Bonnycastle Capn Royl Engineers Western District U.C. Royal Engineer Office 24 Decr 1833. [Sgd] Gusts Nicolls Colonel Comg Rl Engineers Canada.

Image courtesy Library and Archives Canada: NMC16817
Winearls, MUC no. 2063 (3)

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