The Peripatetic Sniders
The Peripatetic Sniders
There is some confusion as to exactly where the Martin Snider family settled when they arrived in York. Edwin George Snider apparently believed that their first farm property was in the vicinity of Toronto's Yonge and Queen Streets. Harvey Grafton Snider claimed that it was around MacPherson Avenue and Yonge Street, deep in the hollow below the Davenport Ridge - the escarpment.
In 1977, The Toronto Chapter of Architects published a handy booklet called Exploring Toronto, Its buildings, people and places. A chapter called Along the Escarpment, describes "early farmhouses" situated along the "bluffs of ancient Lake Ontario [below St. Clair]," and it's easy to imagine farmland below the bluffs being "swampy and full of mosquitoes," as our family lore suggests.
In the language of our predecessors, Martin and his family "threw it over" and in 1811, bought a farm property owned by William Allan on Lot 3, Concession 1 West on Yonge Street. Allan had offered the farm for sale in the Upper-Canada Gazette of Dec. 26 1810.
"Lot No. 3 first concession west side of Yonge Street containing 210 acres of which about 30 are cleared fenced and under grass. There is likewise on said lot, a good Dwelling House, a large Barn and convenient buildings which may be viewed Ė for Particulars apply Subscriber William Allan."
The "Dwelling House" was a log cabin, and presumably the family lived there for some time because, according to Bill Siegel, a former owner of the "Snider House" at 744 Duplex Avenue, some of the logs from the cabin were used in the lower part of the Regency-style house which was later built by Martinís son William, in 1828.
Again, Martin Snider and his family settled into the busy and demanding life of farmers. They continued clearing their land along the primitive Yonge Street trail, but by 1812, the United States once again declared war on Great Britain, and the Sniders became involved in another conflict.
Jacob, the eldest, drilled with the Militia and served with General Brockís troops. In April of 1813, the Americans landed in York after a bloody battle in which many U.S. and British troops were killed or wounded.
Young Martin, only 15 years old, helped his brother procure much needed supplies for the British forces.
At warís end, life settled down again and Martin and Sarah continued to look after the farm and raise their family, acquiring increasingly more farm property in York, King and Scarborough Townships.
By 1816, both Martin Senior and Jacob's names appeared as Pathmasters or road keepers in the York Upper Canada Minutes of Town Meetings and Lists of Inhabitants, 1797-1823, transcribed from the original documents by Christine Mosser.
Jacob and Rachel McCready were married in 1815; Mary Snider married Isaac White in 1818; young Martin married Alida McCready in 1820; John and Mary Heron were married in 1822; young Sarah Snider married John Willson IV in 1822, and William Snider and Nancy Cummer became man and wife in 1827.
The following June, old Martin died, leaving Sarah to carry on alone. She was only 59 and had borne eleven children. Sarah lived another 41 years and died in 1869 at age 100. Martin left the house and farm to Sarah, but it is likely that the law required that property be left to the eldest son.
Harvey Grafton Snider received a letter from a lawyer in 1926, who was searching the title of property on what was by that time Alexandra Boulevard. The lawyer wrote:
The lawyer wanted to know whether Jacob was the eldest son. Jacob already had his own farm at the N-E corner of Yonge Street at Eglinton Avenue.
Martinís sons worked it out between them. They split the farm in half from east to west; William Snider farmed the north half, Elias the south. In 1828, William built a storey-and-a-half Regency-style brick cottage to replace the log house, and he and Nancy Cummer Snider planted a chestnut tree on the front lawn.
The family dispersed to other townships, provinces, the city, the United States. Several moved to King Township and were known as the ĎNobleton Snidersí. In 1888, the last of Martin Sniderís Eglinton homestead property was sold out of the family.
In the meantime, Martinís nephew, George, son of his deceased brother, Elias, moved from New Brunswick and established himself in the Vandorf area of Whitchurch Township, east of Toronto. We call them the "Vandorf Sniders".
Patricia Snider Armstrong © July 2000