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Castle Frank, 1796

Castle Frank, 1796

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Title: Castle Frank, 1796
Author: Simcoe, Elizabeth
Description: Note: Castle Frank was the name of the summer residence of John Graves Simcoe, Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, his wife Elizabeth Simcoe and their children. Named for the Simcoe’s then five-year old son Francis, in whose name the patent for the land was made, Castle Frank was more modest in structure than its name implies. The Simcoes arrived in the town of York in August 1793 and the construction of Castle Frank began the following spring. Situated on a steep hill overlooking the Don Valley, the thirty by fifty foot house was constructed of clapboarded pine logs. With the trunks of four peeled pines forming a columned façade, the house was “built on the plan of a Grecian Temple" (Elizabeth Simcoe, Diary Entry, January 23, 1796). The interior of the house was rough and never fully completed, but its large, open room was the the scene of numerous social occasions during the Simcoes’ three year sojourn. Elizabeth used Castle Frank as a country retreat, going up the Don by sleigh in winter or through the woods in summer for picnics and parties. When the Simcoes returned to England in 1796, Castle Frank was still under construction. After their departure, the cottage was used as a temporary home by Simcoe’s replacement, Peter Russell (Administrator of the colony during Simcoe’s leave of absence). Simcoe would never return to Upper Canada, and nor would Francis, who was killed in action in Spain in April 1812, return to claim his estate. Castle Frank burned to the ground in 1829 at the hands of some careless fishermen. In the years that followed, the Simcoes sold all of their landholdings in Upper Canada. Many years later, Toronto MP and businessman Sir Edward Kemp built a second, twenty-four-room Castle Frank, north of the original site. It was demolished in 1962 to make way for the Rosedale Heights Secondary School. SOURCES: 1) Archives of Ontario. “The Visual Diary of Elizabeth Simcoe: A Journey through Upper and Lower Canada.” Canada's Digital Collections program, Industry Canada. http://collections.ic.gc.ca/elizabethsimcoe/don.html and http://www.archives.gov.on.ca/English/exhibits/simcoe/simcoe7.htm; 2) Historical Narratives of Early Canada: John Graves Simcoe, http://www.uppercanadahistory.ca/simcoe/simcoe1.html; 3) Lundell, Liz. The Estates of Old Toronto. Erin, Ont.: Boston Mills Press, 1997; and 4) Simcoe, Elizabeth, 1766-1850. Mrs. Simcoe's diary, with illus. from the original manuscript. Edited by Mary Quayle Innis. Toronto: Macmillan 1965.
Sponsor: Changing Urban Waterfronts research project
Subject: Castle Frank
Don Valley
Type: Image
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10315/1248
Published: Location: Archives of Ontario
Series: F 47-11-1-0-228
Citation: Simcoe, E. (1796). Castle Frank. Archives of Ontario, F 47-11-1-0-228.
Date: 1796

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