Explanatory Notes



Meyers...Taylor...   Belleville is thought to have developed around two centres, one social—the tavern established by John Simpson in about 1789—and the other industrial—the lumber and grist mills established at about the same time or a little later by Captain John Walden Meyers (1745-1821), the Loyalist who is regarded as the city's founder.  (As Robert J.M. Shipley observes, the "fledgling [mill] industry formed the nucleus of a community that bore Meyers's name until it became known as Bellville [Belleville] in 1816" ["John Walden Meyers," Dictionary of Canadian Biography 6: 503].)  The substantial house that Meyers built in 1794 on a hill overlooking his mills was "among the first brick houses in Upper Canada" (Gerald E. Boyce, Historic Hastings [Belleville: Hastings County Council, 1967], 34) and may well be one of the "happy homes" to which Breeze later refers (87).


The HON. BILLA FLINT   See Introduction and Adam Hood Burwell, Talbot Road: a Poem for a similarly sycophantic paean to a "mighty mind" whose "plans" came to fruition, in Burwell's case Captain Thomas Talbot, the founder of the Talbot Settlement north of Lake Erie.  Boyce notes that "Flint's extensive wharves and store houses made him one of the most prominent merchants in the district" and suggests that his "'Enterprise Steam Mill' was the first in this part of the province and was envied by less progressive Kingston merchants" (49).


THE HON. LEWIS WALLBRIDGE   See Dictionary of Biography 11: 908-909 for a succinct account of the life and activities of the lawyer, politician, and judge Lewis Wallbridge, who was born in Belleville in 1816 and died in Winnipeg in 1887, but was buried in Belleville.  As the concluding lines of Breeze's paean to Wallbridge make clear, he serves in the poet's mind as an instance of the power not only of the natural but also of the built environment to shape character and nurture "genius" (170).


THE HON. ROBERT READ   A farmer, distiller, and tanner, originally from Fressingfield, Suffolk, England, Robert Read (1814-1896) was elected to the federal House of Commons in 1867.  Breeze's designation of him as "THE HON." suggests that in 1864 he was a member of the provincial House of Assembly but proof of this has yet to be found.


T.C. WALLBRIDGE, ESQ., M.P.   The brother of Lewis Wallbridge (see note to 137-76, above), Thomas Campbell Wallbridge (1830-1881), was the member of parliament for Hastings North from 1863 to 1867.  In the preceding decade, he did pioneering archaeological work on burial mounds in the Belleville region (see Boyce 8-9, 148-49, and 182).


Its Religion   In the chapter entitled "Belleville, 1821-1837" in Historic Hastings, Boyce writes that "[t]he decade after 1821 witnessed a considerable religious development at Belleville.  The Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists, and Anglicans either erected new churches or extended existing facilities, most of them on what is now Church Street" (49).  Boyce's chapter entitled "Out with the Devil" (202-210) contains comments on many of the ministers mentioned by Breeze, and pictures of Belleville's churches and related buildings (for example, St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church [1830]) are reproduced in his text (see, for example, 47, 49, and 51).  Neither of the churches whose architectural features are mentioned by Breeze—St. Thomas Anglican Church (see 310-11) and the church of St. Michael the Archangel (see 390-91)—was built in the period of "religious development" described by Boyce.  The former, "a homely structure" according to Susanna Moodie (see Introduction), was built in 1820, and the latter, much celebrated by Moodie for the loudness of its bell (see Life in the Clearings 7), between 1837 (when its cornerstone was laid) and 1843 (when it was dedicated).  The "tower" that Breeze mentions in his reference to St. Michael the Archangel was a tall and slender structure erected in 1863 to house the bell that was was acquired by the church in 1846 and housed thereafter in a building adjacent to the church.  In 1886-88 the church of St. Michael the Archangel that Breeze and Moodie knew was replaced by a new edifice, which burned down in 1904.


MAJOR LEVESCONTE.LADY FRANKLIN   The brother of one of the officers who died with Sir John Franklin on his ill-fated 1845 expedition to the Arctic, Major C.G. Le Vesconte opened as Apothecary Hall in Belleville in the eighteen forties (see Boyce 92).


Its Literature   See Boyce, "The Pioneer Press," Historic Hastings 211-15 for details of the newspapers canvassed by Breeze.  The first Hastings County Directory was published in 1860-61 and the second in 1868-69.  (Almost needless to say, both are excellent sources of information about the Belleville described by Breeze.)  The "deep purple building" where "minds of rare power do eagerly seize / The germs of what knowledge they please" (474-75) is probably the Belleville Mechanics Institute, which, as Boyce notes, "ceased operations in the 1860s" but was revived in 1876 (176).  The jewel in Belleville's very modest literary diadem, Susanna Moodie (1803-1885) moved from Peterborough to Belleville with her husband Dunbar in January 1840, "and it was probably there that...[she] wrote the sketches and stories of backwoods life which eventually appeared in Roughing It in the Bush [1852]" (Carl P.A. Ballstadt, "Susanna (Moodie) Strickland," Dictionary of Canadian Biography 11:859).  Moodie's Life in the Clearings (1853) includes numerous comments on Belleville, its inhabitants, and its buildings, many of them very unflattering (see Introduction).

545-74 The Military   See Boyce, "To Arms Again," Historic Hastings 134-38.

Both in person and through his research James Boyce has offered help in the compilation of these notes for which I am very grateful.