From the book "History of Toronto and County of York, Ontario : containing a history of the city of Toronto and the county of York," published in 1885. Andrew Heron was the son of Samuel Heron Samuel was baptised 22nd September 1768 at Girthon Parish. His parents were Andrew Heron and Janet Connel. Two other brothers, Andrew (16/12/1762) and Robert (10/9/1759) are also listed in the Old Parish Register.

Samuel Heron of Girthon and Canada, and his son Andrew

ANDREW HERON, at the present time the oldest native resident of the City of Toronto, the third son of Samuel and Sarah (Ashbridge). Heron, was born on November 30th, 1800, in a small log house erected by his father on the north side of Duke Street, near the present residence of the Hon. M. C. Cameron.

His father was the youngest of a family of three sons, born at Kirkcudbright, Scotland, 1770. He emigrated to New York City, where he remained a short time, and then made his way to Niagara. In the spring of 1792 he left Niagara, with an ox team and cart laden with provisions and tools necessary in a new settlement, and journeyed around the lake by way of Hamilton. On arriving at the Don River, he crossed over in a rough scow, and proceeded to what is now known as Ashbridge's Bay, and took up two hundred acres of land, where he found Mrs. Ashbridge and her sons, who had settled there a few months previous.

December 14th, 1794, he married Sarah Ashbridge, whose people were English Quakers from Philadelphia. Being U. E. Loyalists, the mother and sons drew land from the Crown. In 1796 Mr. Heron concluded to try his fortune in mercantile life, and accordingly erected the log house on Duke Street and a log store on King Street. His first stock of goods was procured from Montreal. He continued in business for a few years, and subsequently settled on a Government tract of land of two hundred acres, on Yonge Street, about seven miles from the bay. It was located near what was called Heron's Hill, afterwards Hogg's Hollow. The steady and rapid influx of a thrifty class of emigrants and the clearing of their lands, offered inducements for other enterprises. He erected a saw and grist-mill, ashery and distillery, and opened a market for ashes which he converted into potash. His business increased rapidly, and was in a thriving condition when in 1817 he died.

Andrew Heron, the subject of this sketch, resided with his father until 1811, when he was sent to Niagara to live with his uncle Andrew, his father's brother, who was a merchant at the latter place. After attending school for a short period he entered his uncle's store as a clerk. In 1812, at the breaking out of the war between the United States and Great Britain, he was attending school at Niagara, in close proximity to Fort George. The same spirit that provoked the two nations to draw the sword was shared by the youth of that day, and many were the battles fought between juvenile rebels and loyalists, who used stones to good advantage, the former being often compelled to take refuge within the fort. When York was attacked, in April, 1813, by the American fleet under Commodore Chauncey and General Dearborn, Mr. Heron was upon Niagara Commons. He heard the roar of cannon and the explosion of the powder magazine, and naturally felt very anxious about the fate of his father and brother, who belonged to the York Militia, which participated in the engagement. His brother John fought at the battle of Lundy's Lane, where he was shot. While he lay in a ploughed field, the enemy passed over him, thinking him dead. He afterwards rejoined the British forces, and, having served during the war, received a pension until his death.

Andrew was also at the Battle of Queenston Heights. He saw the American prisoners as they were escorted through Niagara on their way down the lake, and was present at the funeral of General Brock, who had fallen at Queenston Heights, while cheering on his men to the attack. He was at Niagara when the Americans burned and sacked the town, and witnessed his uncle's house and store devoured by the flames. After the close of the war Mr. Heron was summoned by the Government to Ancaster to give evidence against some American sympathizers, who were tried and convicted before Chief Justice Robinson. In 1819 Mr. Heron left Niagara and came to York, working upon his uncle Ashbridge's farm until 1822, when he returned to Niagara, where he rented from his uncle Andrew a small row boat, which he began plying between Niagara and the Youngstown ferry. "Sevenpence ha'penny" was the fare charged for one passenger. The fresh arrival of immigrants at that time rendering ferry business very profitable, the enterprising young boatman was soon compelled to increase the facilities for transit. He constructed a horse-boat the horse being on deck attached to a windlass, which transferred the power to a wheel at the stern.

Mr. Heron continued running the ferry until 1835. In 1829 he married Cynthia, youngest daughter of Cornelius Beaugardis, an American lady of German extraction, by whom he had four sons and one daughter, only one son now surviving. In 1835 he placed the ferry business in charge of another person, and opened a store at the Town of Niagara, which he conducted until 1838, when, in consequence of the increasing travel, he embarked in the steamboat business, by forming a joint partnership with Thomas Lockhart and Thomas Dick. The first boat, called the Experiment, was launched at Niagara and ran between York and Hamilton. She did not prove to be a paying investment, and was sold upon Mr. Lockhart retiring from the business, which was conducted by Mr. Heron and Captain Dick, who soon after built the City of Toronto, a side-wheel boat built at Niagara in 1840, afterwards called the Algoma.




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