Who were these men who came to this area to found a colony?
First, we have Nathaniel Clark Wallace, President of the York Farmers' Colonization Company.
Born in Woodbridge, Ontario in 1844, Nathaniel Clarke Wallace was Conservative Member of Parliament for the County of York from 1878 until his death in 1901. His parents were from Carney, in Sligo County, Ireland. He married Belinda Gilmour of Ottawa on June 7, 1877. He taught public school from 1864 to 1869 then he became merchant and flour miller. Official of the Grand Orange Lodge in Ontario, Wallace became Grand Master of the Orangemen of British America during the 1880s-1890s.
Wallace promoted the York Colony, always active in seeking out settlers. He was the more influential principal of the company to finally exert pressure on the Dominion Government and the Manitoba and North Western Railway to extend the rail line from Saltcoats. He was not able to convince them to have the rail line come through the original site of Yorkton, however. The M &NW Railway diverted the line 4 kilometers south to present day Yorkton.
To explain The Orange Lodge: An association of Protestants established to defend the Protestant succession to the British throne, church and state in 1688. Transplanted on Canadian soil, the Orange Lodge was a politically powerful Protestant voice in Ontario. Many of the shareholders of the York Farmers Colonization Company, and settlers of York Colony were Orangemen. It is believed that the very first Orange Lodge to be organized west of Manitoba, in what is now Saskatchewan was in the early 1880s at the Armstrong Lake post office.
He is considered Yorkton's Founding Father in historical records. He travelled frequently between the colony and Toronto. He and his bride came on their honeymoon to Yorkton, where he built a cottage and stayed a while. In 1889, the first school was opened in the cabin vacated by the Armstrongs. He had not filed for homestead land, but purchased a quarter section from his own Company; N.E. Section 1, Township 25 Range 3 West of the 2nd Meridian.
Of all the Company officials it was James Armstrong who spent the most time in the colony in the role of general manager. –See the information on J. J. Cook for more history on Armstrong.
He was a trusted advisor and friend to the settlers. So far, that is all we can find on the history of the Armstrong family. James Armstrong continued to travel to Yorkton after the Company's Agreement to organize a settlement ended in 1888. He would advertise the Company's lands for sale even into the early 1900s and would take up residence at the Balmoral Hotel to conduct business. He died in 1918.
JOHN JEREMIAH COOK
Not much was known about John Jeremiah Cook until the Yorkton Archives heard from a descendant, his great grand-daughter Hilary Cook of Toronto in 2005. We now know that his parents came from England to Canada in 1848. John J. spent several months in the colony for the first years. Among his many duties was to actively seek more colonists.
He did not file for homestead here, nor did he purchase company land.
J. J. Cook attended business college in Toronto, after High School. He lived and worked in his father's farm "Pine View" in Vaughan. In 1879, he moved to Toronto and partnered with James Armstrong to establish a very prosperous real estate business. That is how they both became linked with the founding of the York Farmers Colonization Company.
After their York Colony contract was over in 1888, Cook and Armstrong became developers in Toronto; a large parcel of land on St.Clair Avenue West, and areas on Jarvis Street were converted in residential properties. Much of the development of North Toronto is credited to them. They were involved in developments in Montreal, Havana and Buffalo.
ROBERT N. TAYLOR
1883 in York City
Taylor was the land agent for the York Farmers Colonization Company. His occupation in Ontario had been farming. Taylor was present in York Colony for several years helping with settlement. He did file for homestead and for a Pre-emption quarter section: NW Section 2 Township 26 Range 3 West of the 2nd Meridian, and SW 2-T 26 R3 W2nd Mer. He did not prove this land, and these were re-opened for entry. Levi Beck obtained title to the two quarter sections. .
It is quite remarkable indeed that these men of impressive professional and business skills came to this area to manage a colonization plan. As we stated for several years now on the History/Archives section of the City of Yorkton Web site:--in the annals of our history, the work of the York Farmers' Colonization Company as colonizers of farming lands and village builders needs to be recognized as having set the direction for the prosperity of this community and area.
(1834-1915) of Toronto, Ont.
No photo is available
Surveyor, York City, Provisional District of Assiniboia, North West Territories and Vice President of the York Farmers Colonization Company
We already introduced Silas James in the June 20th feature. We need to add however, that he was known also as an architect and engineer in Ontario and British Columbia. He was associated with many Toronto architects which brought him prominence.
Terri Lefebvre Prince,
City of Yorkton Archives, City of Yorkton,
37 Third Avenue North,
Yorkton, Sask. S3N 2W3