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Walk to Courthouse Square

Yesterday, Dad and I went to Mackenzie House so we could go on their guided walk to Courthouse Square.

There is a memorial outside Mackenzie House which commemorates Peter Matthews, Samuel Lount and all of the men and women who fought for political freedom and responsible government in Canada.

William Lyon Mackenzie was the 1st Mayor of Toronto and he was a leader of the 1837 Rebellion for responsible government. He fled Canada to escape being captured after the rebellion. There was a bounty of £1,000 when he was on the run. He moved back to Canada with his family in 1850 after he was pardoned by Queen Victoria.

We did a quick stop at St. Michael's Cathedral. By the time Mackenzie came back to Canada for a short while in 1849 there was an increasing number of Catholics in Toronto.

When Mackenzie left Canada there were a total of 2,000 people in Toronto but when he came back there were 15,000!

We walked passed Massey Hall.

We stopped outside The Eaton Centre. Before The Eaton Centre was there, that area had a lot of residences. Mackenzie and his son stayed at the the MacIntosh Residence in 1849 when they came back.

People rioted!

They threw rocks through windows and burned an effigy of Mackenzie outside the house!
They blamed Mackenzie for the 1837 rebellion and they were upset that he escaped punishment.

St. Michael's hospital stands on where George Brown's House used to be. George Brown was a good businessman and a journalist. George Brown ran the Toronto Globe (which is now the Globe and Mail). Mackenzie was a good journalist but not so good at business. But, Mackenzie beat out George Brown for a seat in Parliament in 1851.

Beside Courthouse Square there was a jail where the captured rebels were kept. Peter Matthews and Samuel Lount were executed for High Treason even though they didn't cause any bloodshed. People didn't think they would actually be executed.

Even though there was a population of only 2,000 people in the city, 10,000 people were in the square to watch the execution!

At the site of the old jail they have this plaque.

After the rebellion Samuel Lount almost managed to escape capture. He was in a boat and able to see the Pennsylvania coast when the wind suddenly changed and blew him back to Canada. A farmer caught him and claimed the bounty of £500.

Bruce Beaton played the role of Samuel Lount. He explained what Lount must have been thinking as he faced execution. Lount wouldn't get to see his children grow up to become the great adults he knew they would be and his wife would miss him dearly.

Samuel Lount faced his execution bravely.
Sheriff Jarvis, who led him to the gallows, cried.

Bruce Beaton also played the part of Solicitor Robert Baldwin. He told Lount and Matthews to plead guilty because he expected leniency. He felt terrible about what happened.

There is a monument to Peter Matthews and Samuel Lount in the Toronto Necropolis.

Here are links to my other blog posts about Mackenzie House where I talk about the Rebellion, Lount and Matthews:


  1. This is a great summary of the walk Josh.

  2. Thanks for another excellent write-up, Josh! - Mackenzie House

  3. Such a great blog! Thanks for the history lesson and tour! -Gibson House Museum