Travels with Elizabeth Simcoe: A Visual Journey Through Upper and Lower Canada - Page Banner

The Final Year


The Simcoes would spend another year in Upper Canada, during which time Elizabeth painted and wrote in her diaries extensively.

In November 1795 the family sailed to York on board the schooner "Governor Simcoe" for a prolonged visit. They would winter there, returning to Niagara in April to open the legislature. However, it was to be a short visit. The Assembly was prorogued on the 3rd of June and, 4 days later, the Simcoe family left Niagara again, to take a leisurely trip back to York. Col. Simcoe was fulfilling his promise to show Elizabeth the western end of Lake Ontario.

“I sent the children and servants to the "Head of the Lake" in the canoe. Mrs. Green went as a guide to conduct us on horseback across the mountain. Green has lately, at the Governor's request and expense, cut a road thro' the wood, making it passable for me to ride. The Governor thinks the country will derive great benefit by opening a road on the top of the mountain (where it is quite dry) from Niagara to the "Head of the Lake", instead of going a most terrible road below, full of swamps, fallen trees, etc. . . .”

- June 10th, 1796



Watercolour: View from Mrs. Simcoe's road heading up to the lake, June 10, 1796 (detail)
Click to see a larger version (175K)

View from Mrs. Simcoe's road heading up to the lake,
June 10, 1796 (detail)
Elizabeth Simcoe, (1766-1850)
pen/paper
Reference Code: F 47-11-1-0-188
Archives of Ontario, I0007040

“Further west of this terrace we saw Coote's Paradise, so called from a Capt. Coote, [of the 8th Regiment of Foot] who spent a great deal of time shooting ducks in this marshy tract of land below the hill we are upon. It abounds with wild fowl and tortoises; from hence it appears more like a river or lake than a marsh . . . I was so pleased with this place that the Governor stay'd and dined at Beasley's. A strong east wind prevented our sailing back. We therefore arrived late, and found a salmon and tortoise dressed for our dinner.”

- June 11th, 1796



Watercolour: Cootes paradise from hill, June 11, 1796 (detail)
Click to see a larger version (153K)

Cootes paradise from hill, June 11, 1796 (detail)
Elizabeth Simcoe, (1766-1850)
pen/paper
Reference Code: F 47-11-1-0-214
Archives of Ontario, I0007066

“This part of the mountain is said to abound with rattlesnakes, and why I did not meet them in these unfrequented places I do not know. I gathered a great many plants. Green gave them all names, and I stopped at his house to write them down. Ginseng, a root highly valued as a tonic, which the merchants tell me they send to England, and in some years has sold at a guinea a pound; sarsaparilla; consumption vine, a pretty creeper. Green's daughter was cured of consumption by drinking a tea made of it.”

- Sunday June 12, 1796

“Here Walbekanine and a number of his tribe, who are encamped a mile distant, were assembled to compliment the Governor, and fired muskets in our horses' faces, their usual mark of respect, which frightened me and my horse very much; he startled and I shrieked, but the sound was lost in the whoop of the Indians. They gave us the largest land tortoise I ever saw.”

- June 11th, 1796



Watercolour: Head of the Lake [Ontario], June 11, 1796 (detail)
Click to see a larger version (157K)

Head of the Lake [Ontario], June 11, 1796, (detail)
Elizabeth Simcoe, (1766-1850)
pen/paper
Reference Code: F 47-11-1-0-221
Archives of Ontario, I0007073