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Souvenirs of the Past by William Lewis Bby


Souvenirs of the Past

William Lewis Bâby

William Bâby was born in the Duff-Bâby house, Sandwich Towne, on April 13, 1812. The Ontario Heritage Foundation (Ontario Heritage Trust) has declared the Duff-Bâby house a historic site and has carefully restored it for public viewing and enjoyment. Chiefs Tecumseh, Pontiac and Splitlog have all walked its halls, as have Generals Brock, Harrison, Hall and Colonel Proctor. One of these people may indeed be the ghost that is said to walk the halls today.

This book takes place at the end of the period in Upper Canada’s life referred to as “The Foundation of British Canada”. The stories in this book continue with the next phase: “The Middle Period: Ships, Colonies and Commerce 1815 to 1867.” It was a time for what is now the Province of Ontario to establish a “Canadian” (as interpreted as a lessening of dependence on British ways) political form of representative government.

The Honorable Jacques Bâby and his brother François were the most powerful and influential people in the British Detroit region. Their status led to some serious concerns in the middle period, because the citizens of the Canadas wanted to abolish the British class system. The Bâby family represented this system, and were part of the “Family Compact” who ruled at the time. The 1837 Rebellion destroyed this system forever, and initiated many changes in the framework of society. Many of the stories you will read in the text reflect on this era of our country’s growth. William in particular was a product of his father’s upbringing, and was an upper class gentleman of wealth and importance. He tried a variety of methods in order to preserver his wealth while prospering in the community, and this narrative includes accounts of his many ventures. For instance, the chapter entitled “An Old Time Breeze…” shows his occasional lack of good judgment as we read of the mutiny of his captain and crew from his ship Tecumseh during its voyage from Albertville to York.

The story “An Old Family Legend” offers the details about how the Hon. Jacques Bâby was bribed by the British government in order to turn in Chief Pontiac. In another chronicle, we learn that William Bâby’s father, Jacques, was held captive in his own home during the War of 1812. General William Henry Harrison, who later became the United States’ “One Month” President, used the mansion as his headquarters while the United States briefly held Essex County as their own.

“The Family Compact in Ontario”, “The Rebellion in 1837”, and the housing of the prisoners in the windmills are other stories that will have you cheering for the residents of Essex County. William Bâby and his friends were important investors in the town of Olinda, the industrial heartland of the area as well as the largest community in Essex County in its day. It is now adeserted town, as one can learn from the entertaining book “Tour Olinda: Essex Counties only Ghost Town.”

In this volume you will read the unique story of the Jesuit Pear tree, located on the front lawn of the Bâby house, and relish the account of how the Bâby family protected a man (Andrew) from the bounty hunters in “The Runaway Slave.“ In “A Journey to Little York,” we meet the eccentric old Colonel Talbot during an encounter that lends us a glimpse into William Bâby’s true motivations. As the narration takes us to York, we learn how William’s brothers launched the Mackenzie Rebellion, in “The Destruction of W. Lyon McKenzie's Press.“ Not to be forgotten is the description of “The Visit of the Prince of Wales to Detroit in September 1860.”

Souvenirs of the Past, first printed in 1896, includes a variety of first hand accounts from an earlier period of our Canadian history. These short stories (and accompanying sketches) are presented in a readable, enjoyable format with unforgettable characters and scenes from earlier times.


Pages: 283, including a new index
Originally Published: 1896
Reprinted: 2009
Format: Perfect bound paperback 5.5" x 8.5"
ISBN: 978-0-9842256-0-6
Price: $18.95

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This product was added to our catalog on Thursday 12 May, 2011.

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