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History - Chronology


• William Fleming born on Bridgewater Farm near Dromore, Co. Tyrone. His father is Joseph Fleming, a stonemason who has built their white-washed stone house on 16 ½ acres of sloping fields. No doubt he also worked on the great Omagh courthouse at the top of Main Street about 9 miles from Dromore. Joseph’s wife is Molly Nelson.


• Jane Caldwell, William’s future wife is born in nearby Co. Fermanagh. The Caldwells are a large clan. One of her distant relatives owns Castle Caldwell.


• William’s youngest brother, Joseph the 2nd is born on the farm near Dromore. William’s son Joseph the third will later become a pioneer farmer in Western Canada fulfilling the family’s dream-shared by all their neighbours-of owning their own land, impossible in Ireland.


• James Orford born in Co. Kildare to an Anglo-Irish family. His daughter Lydia will marry William Fleming’s son R. J. Fleming.


• Mary Ferguson Taylor(Orford) born in Erie Pennsylvania(Mother of Lydia)



• John Cauldwell, Jane’s younger brother born in Fermanagh. Their parents are Thomas Caldwell(the spelling used in Ireland) and Mary Fair, possibly from the area of Lisnaskea.


• The Family Compact run Toronto. “Government was of the Crown and chosen by the Crown-(historian Katherine Hole the powerful Anglican Bishop Strachan was one of its members.)


• John Verner, future husband of Polly Noble is born in Ulster


• Aunt Polly’s parents George Noble and Jane Cauldwell marry. George Noble’s ancestors lived by their wits on horseback in the Borderlands of England and Scotland. Like the other “reivers” as they were called, they were forced to emigrate by James VI of Scotland when he became James I of England. Polly’s father was short, dark, wiry with no love of authority.


• Thursday March 6th, Name of York changed back to the old Indian name of “Toronto” this will be future home of Polly Noble and John Verner.

• William Lyon MacKenzie “the firebrand” is elected Toronto’s first mayor with wide support from Ontario farmers. He orders plank sidewalks to be laid in a city notorious for its muddy streets where a man could sink in up to his waist. That summer he tends to the needs of the sick in a cholera epidemic that kills more than 500 of Toronto’s 10,000 inhabitants.

• There is a toll gate at the corner of Yonge and Bloor.


• Eliza, Aunt Polly’s oldest sister is born.



• Aunt Polly is born. Polly Noble is born on a farm near Dromore opposite the Fleming’s farm, on the old coach road, less than a mile from Dromore.(This is the road between Enniskillen and Dromore, with a hill so steep, two coach horses dropped dead at the top.) Dromore itself is a village of two streets, nestled among the ancient drumlin hills of Tyrone, with an old stone church(Church of Ireland) at the top of Church Street, where Catholics and Protestants are buried together.


• Queen Victoria started her reign. The young Queen Victoria comes to the throne, after the mad fits of old King George the third.


• William Lyon Mackenzie led uprising of angry farmers against the ruling Family Compact. He led an armed agrarian revolt, abortive against the powers that be. Montgomery’s Tavern, headquarters of the revolt, is burned to the ground, some of the farmers sent to Von Diemen’s land/Australia, other’s hanged. Mackenzie escapes with his life to America.


• Lord Durham, promoter of Responsible Government arrives in Canada. His report poses the way for big changes. He dies of Tuberculosis two years later.


• Jan 6th windstorm rose up out of sea, causing massive destruction Polly’s father dies in aftermath. The legendary Big Wind destroys villages across Ireland, sets thatched roofs on fire, blinds children with cinders, lifts hayrick and corn stacks miles away and topples 500 chimneys in Dublin all with a noise like a thousand screaming banshees. People run half-naked into the streets thinking the end of the world has come. Flames seen to spill out of the clouds. George Noble dies in the aftermath.


• John Verner, eight years old, comes with his family to Canada. United States

• Nov 16th John McAree, son of John McAree and Jane Ballntye of Co. Armagh is born near New York City on Manhattan Island. He is the future father of Vern McAree author of “Cabbagetown Store” whose heroine is Polly Noble with her husband John Verner.



Oct 15th

• Aunt Polly’s mother Jane remarries widower William Fleming, who lives across the road. William is 33 and lives on Bridgewater Farm with his father Joseph. Polly is 4 years old and her sister Eliza is 6. The farm is an enchanted place for these two. Soon they help lug the heavy pails of seed potatoes out to the ridges and then plant them In summer the flax field is a sea of tiny blue flowers and later they help their mother pull the flax so it can be drowned in the flax dam across the road. There is a stench when the men go to heave it out to be scotched and dried. From their loft room in the stone house they can watch all the evening comings and goings at Bridge Road. On rainy days the big old barn at the back looks like a castle or a dungeon. Polly spends every minute possible out of doors, climbing trees, helping to milk cows and finding where the hens have laid their eggs.


• Union of Upper and Lower Canada creates as many problems as it solves.

• Young James Orford age 21 purchases ½ acre of prime land on the east side of Parliament Street, from the Clergy Reserves and a 2nd acre in 1843.


• Joseph Aunt Polly’s brother is born(he later goes out west). He is the first son of William and Jane Fleming and is born on Bridgewater Farm. No doubt William has ridden through the night to fetch Mrs. Corey the midwife.


• Aunt’ Polly’s sister Maggie is born to Jane and William on Bridgewater Farm.

• Everyone is talking about Daniel O’Connell the Liberator. He declares this to be Repeal Year. Thirty monster meetings take place in the south, with perhaps a million people asking for the Irish Parliament to be brought back to Dublin.


• November 8th Tyrone got its first newspaper the Tyrone Constitution. The Tyrone Constitution is founded by John Nelis, an Omagh printer and entrepreneur.

• The same year in Toronto George Brown founded the Toronto Globe as its outspoken editor. He will become leader of the Reform party. George Brown will team up with Irish born Thomas D’Arcy McGee in the struggle to establish Canada’s Confederation, a broad and inclusive vision.

• July 11th Polly’s mother, Jane Fleming gives birth to twins, Rebecca and Isabella Fleming. They become Polly’s special charge. Rebecca will be the future mother of Vern McAree, who will write Polly’s story in Toronto.

• The first mention of a potato blight on the front page of Fermanagh’s Impartial Reporter. No one takes it seriously.

• Daniel O’Connell imprisoned.

• Toronto gets a new City Hall.

• The Count of Monte Cristo is published.


• Aug 29th Potato famine has started in Ireland. Less than a year after it alluded to the Tyrone Constitution announces “a fatal malady” has affected the potato crop.” By November everyone knows half the potato crop has been lost. 45 % of Irish Farmers rent less than 5 acres and depend on this crop for survival. Everyone hopes for a better crop next year. The Constitution notes that the oat crop alone could feed twice the population. Yet 16,000 quarters of oats are shipped each week out of the country, to pay exorbitant farm rents and leases, and maintain the sancitity of a rigid laissez faire economic policy administered by distant bureaucrats.

• Jane Fleming gives birth to a second son Robert. This family has 16 ½ acres more than 80% of Irelands farmers, but no enough to subdivide for sons and the dowery of daughters without putting them at risk. They cannot own the land under a feudal land system realing out of control.


• Reappearance of a potato blight. The south, west and far north are hardest hit.

• On August 3rd James Browne, a soap manufacture from Donaghmore, (not farm from Dromore) drives with this sister Bella to the sea Bundoran. On the way the potato fields are blooming. Three days later the same fields have turned to a mass of putrefication.

• (1846-47) This winter is one of the coldest in living memory. It snows for two months without stopping, to add to the misery of starving people. The roads are blocked. The potato crop is a total loss. Typhus spreads. More than a million people will die of fever and starvation. The Flemings like countless others decide to leave Ireland. Polly is nine years old.


• Aunt Polly’s older sister Eliza died at Grosse Ile of typhus.

• Potato famine continues.

• Aunt Polly’s family head to Derry Londonberry and board the ship Sesotris sailing ship for Quebec, with Captain Dand at the helm. May 14th the Sesostris sails with 428 people on board a 606 ton vessel. They know that a family of seven Caldwells from Jane’s Fermangh clan were among the 411 passengers lost when the Exmouth bound for Quebec went down in a terrible storm off the coast of Scotland on April 28th.

• May 15th Death of Daniel O’Connell, Liberator.

• June 14th. They arrive at Grosse Ile. Most of the passengers have survived. There were eight deaths at sea, among them Polly’s little sister and brother and the baby. They arrive at Grosse Ile to fin 50 ships backed up in stormy weather waiting to land, while the over-worked medical staff try to find tents and coffins for 1000 sick and dying on the waiting ships. Polly’s sister Eliza dies at Grosse Ile, where a heat wave replaces the storm.

• By the end of June, the Flemings reach Montreal where they stay for the next three years. More than 5,000 Irish die in the fever sheds, as well as the Mayor of Montreal. the Flemings never forget the kindness of the Grey Nuns on their arrival.


• The Flemings see something of the Verners’ and Breadons. Young John Verner shows Polly around the city with its mountains and river. On the night of the fire in 1849, they hear the fire alarm bells and run to see the Parliament Buildings burn to the ground, set on fire by a Tory mob.

• April, In Toronto where they will soon arrive, fire destroys St. James Cathedral and the City Hall as flames sweep westward along King Street East, wiping out whole blocks of shops and houses. Another epidemic of Asiatic cholera spreads.


• The Flemings decide to move to Toronto where there is work available. They live first on Stanley Street(now Lombard). William works as an independent carter. He hauls woods for the winter from the surrounding forest. Like other licensed carters he is required to attend all local fires to haul water from the bay for the horse-drawn fire engine.

• This is the last year of the horse ferry to Toronto Island.


• October 21 Jenny Lind the Swedish Nightengale sings at the final completed St. Lawrence Hall.


• 2nd wave of Fleming family started by William and Jane Fleming and Elizabeth born.

• Mary Jane Breadon, R.J’s first wife, born in Montreal.

• Ireland- Andrew Fleming, the miller, William Flemings Uncle takes over Bridgewater Farm near Dromore. He will live to be 110. Andrew Fleming is great grandfather of Robert Funstan.

• (In 1911, his neigbour, one of the Funstan family, takes over the Fleming lease and joins the two farms together. Robert Funstan of Belfast who helped Catharine McKenty find the farm of her ancestors, grew up on the farm and was able to describe the house.)


• R.J Fleming is born at house on Stanley Street Nov 23rd. He will become future mayor of Toronto.

• Polly marries John Verner May 15 she is 17. John Verner is a promising tailor who has a good job at the Custom house thanks to Sir John A. Macdonald he always claimed. They live on West Charles Street. Soon Polly’s twin sisters, Rebecca and Isabella come to live with them until their marriage.


• Jane Fleming around the corner 6 St. David gives birth to Maggie, her last child named after the child lost at sea.

• In the 1856 Directory lists: Tollhouse: Dutton, George Toll-Taker on Don Road, the continuation of Winchester Street.


• R.J. remembers being carried to their new home at 6 St David St.E.

• American Civil War. This strengthens northern troops who cast an eye on Canada and helped Toronto’s economy.


• New horse drawn street railway goes off track but passengers cheerfully put it back on.

• John Verner loses job at custom house he was a land waiter and he and Polly take over grocery store at 283 Parliament. They build their house in stages starting in the back, as they can afford it. scrounging second hand lumber and joists from the lumber yard as all young couples did. There was a privy in back, a stable and driving shed for the delivery cart. (283 Parliament originally numbered 205. That changed as houses were built and the street renumbered.

• Aunt Polly was the guiding spirit of the little store which offered credit to working families who lived on the brink of insolvency. The couple had no children. One after another a dozen children arrived on their doorstep who had lost their mothers, over the next twenty years or so.

• The new horse-drawn street railway runs off the tracks but its passengers cheerfully push it back on.


• Dec 5th Lydia Jane Orford born at one acre farm on Parliament property stretches south to Dundas east to the Don. She will become the second wife of R.J. Fleming, and mother of 8 children., of whom Catharine McKenty’s mother was the middle child, known by all as “Aunt Queenie.”

• Oak and Parliament-The property stretches south to Dundas and east to the Don.

• William Fleming listed for the first time at 6 St. David(St. James)

(Orford street named after James(vanishes becomes part of Dundas)


• Isabella, one of the twins who came out on the Sesostris, age 3 with Polly then age 9, marries Joseph Thompson, a printer. He will end up as a printer at the Globe newspaper when George Brown the editor is shot by a disgruntled employee, after becoming one of the Father’s of Canada’s Confederation.

• Isabella and Joseph live at 11 St. David St, still near their parents Jane and William Fleming.

• Isabella and Joseph Fleming give birth to Joseph. Isabella dies giving birth to him. Her husband never remarries but remains close to Aunt Polly and her clan.

• Their son Joseph will become Speaker of the Ontario Legislature and an amiable strong presence with his handlebar mustache at all important events in Aunt Polly’s life.


• John Verner called with #1 rifle company to Battle of Ridgeway 1000 well trained Fenians Irish group who wanted to take Canada hostage to free Ireland from the British. They are under General O’Neill and have crossed the Niagara River. John and his comrades are sent up with no blankets, not enough food and bungled orders. Seven of his comrades lose their lives through an error. The attempted invasion strengthens the move to Confederation. Uncle John told to shoot at O’neal and misses.

• R.J. leaves school at age 12 to get a job as an office boy for 2.00 a week. In the schools of Cabbagetown he won a reputation as a scrapper. He always liked a good fight. “When a fellow had licked all the other boys in the neighbourhood, they brought him to me.” Fleming one said his boundless energy could have got him in trouble but the church got me and held on and gave me good friends.” By the time he was in his teens he was a member of the Old Parliament Street Church, along with his family and the Verners, and one of its staunches temperance workers. When he was about twenty he goes into partnership with T.W. Elliott in the coal and wood business.

• Sir William Thomas White is born. (a cousin to Aunt Polly who becomes Finance Minister in Canada)


• July 1st the British North American Act created the Dominion of Canada which included four provinces, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia

• Sir John A Macdonald is Canada’s 1st Prime Minister.

• Confederation of Canada achieved. George Brown of the Glove and Thomas D’arcy McGee work with a young Kingston lawyer, John A. MacDonald.


• Thomas D’Arcy McGee shot by a Fenian in Montreal.


• Polly and John Verner move to Parliament Street.


• Jane Fleming(Polly’s mother) dies in her home no. 6, St. Davids Street of apoplexy (heart failure).

• R.J. moves in with Aunt Polly and Isabella and Rebecca already there

• Isabella marries Joseph Thompson Sr a printer.


• R.J. pays T.W. Elliot of Flour and Feed 53 George Street, $100 for goodwill of business plus lease of place


• Isabella dies, funeral at husband’s house March 5th (Her husband never re-marries). Obit: 4th of March: Isabella, the beloved wife of Mr. Joseph Thompson, printer, aged 28 years and 7 months. The funeral will take place from her husband’s residence, No 11 St. David Street East. Friends and acquaintances are respectfully asked to attend without further notice.

• 1873 John and Rebecca married at 205 Parliament St. They are married by Rev. George Cochran. They live at 180 Parliament. (John’s residence given as Thunder Bay). He later laid out parks in the Niagara Falls area.


• Joseph Fleming III married Hannah Louise Laiter daughter of a salesman who lives next door to the Verners for one year and shares house 28 Victoria with Joseph Fleming. (*74 or 76?)


• Jan 25th 5:00 a.m. Rebecca gives birth to William Noble, who dies at 11:00 pm at their home 180 Parliament Street.(as per the McAree family bible)

• William Fleming signs his will leaving his use of house and cow and access to well to his 2nd wife Mrs. Kearney and various leases to the Verners.


• William Fleming dies age 68 April 8th at 12 St. Davie Street East

• Joseph Fleming marries Hannah.

• June 26th at 4:10 pm Rebecca McAree gives birth to Vern McAree at 180 Parliament Street


• Hannah(Josephs Fleming III) gives birth to son Bert Edgar.

• R.J. Fleming runs flour and Feed Coal and Wood business at 231 Parliament.(home of Cabbagetown store)


• Vern McAree’s younger brother Cauldwell born at 180 Parliament Street. This is a double brick house shared with John and Margaret Cauldwell and their family.


• Joseph goes west and Hannah gives birth to 2nd son named Ernest Everett.

• That winter her husband Joseph returns to Toronto

• R.J. considers going west for good but changes his mind age 25 suddenly decides to marry Mary Jane Breadon of Montreal married on Dec 23rd. Announcement: On this 23rd December at the residence of the bride’s mother by the Rev. Hugh Johnston Robert Fleming merchant of this city to Margaret Jane eldest daughter of the late C. Breadon of Montreal.

• John McAree, father of Vern and Caul, goes west on a land survey party accompanied by Joseph Fleming.


• George Brown shot in leg wound proves fatal.

• 1880 Joseph Thompson printer at that time George Brown shot.

• 1880- Sept 22nd James Orford dies (Lydias father) in his will mentions his son William mentioned in his will remains absent . This son not mentioned much in family.

• Joseph Fleming goes west again in the spring


• 23rd Sept. R. J and Mary Jane have daughter Reba. at Toronto. Residence 247 Parliament with John McAree

• 1881 Joseph wife Hannah goes west with her children.

• In January Joseph Fleming sets up a tent on the edge of a ravine, all in a days work for a man who has worked as a tinsmith on some of Toronto’s highest church steeples.

• In the summer Hannah and her sons, William age 6, Bert Edgar age 4, and Earnest age 2 travel west by train and river to live in a tent for 2 winters

• In directory in lists a Parliament Street Skating Rink at 275 Parliament.


• Elizabeth Fleming(Aunt Polly’s younger sister) marries Alexander Hutchinson. Alexander runs the store at more of a profit than usual, they live at the store. Wm. Briggs officiates at the marriage. They live at 237 Parliament.

• Rebecca McAree Jr. born 247 Parliament at Cabbage town stores Dec 16th.

• Rebecca her mother dies of infection just before Christmas.(puerperal fever) She is the second twin sister of Aunt Polly who had survived the Sesostris crossing Grosse Ile and all.


• Everett born to Mary Jane Breadon and R. J. 1 week later Mary Jane Breadon dies. Everett lives until 18. “Aunt Polly is a mother to my children.” R.J. writes to a friend as R. J. moves in to Aunt Polly’s.

• June 15th R.J. thinks of going west (he loses trunk on a trip to Brandon that has Mary Janes’ letters in it).

• January, Vern Caul and little Rebecca come to live with Aunt Polly. Uncle John fixes up the attic room for them and their father who is often away. (1882 or 1883?)


• R.J. He leaves coal business for real estate and has office on King St. Toronto is booming.


• East-west link achieved in Canada, last spike in the Canadian Pacific Railway was driven completing the biggest railway construction project ever.


• R.J. elected as alderman of Ward 2 St. David’s Ward

• 1886 Rebecca, Verns sister dies of diphtheria. Aunt Polly and John watch helplessly having been told by the doctor not to give her water.

• July 24th, Elizabeth Fleming Hutchinson, sister of Polly and R.J. dies giving birth to Marjorie who is adopted by Aunt Polly and Uncle John. She is a cousin to Vern. (Her father goes west after his wife dies)


• R.J. again elected alderman.


• R. J. elected alderman and he marries Lydia Orford (Lydia has been volunteering at Sackville Street mission and often plays organ at St. Peters church).


• R.J. elected alderman.


• Sir Thomas White works as a reporter at Toronto Evening Telegram.


• Diptheria epidemic in Toronto.

• Stella Taylor born to Lydia Fleming.

• Real estate speculation collapses (depression).

• 1890 R.J. faces ruin after a successful few years, good friends tide him over. Eventually he pays his creditors and their widows to the last dollar with compound interest.


• R.J. elected mayor of Toronto and again in 1893.


• Russell born to Lydia and R.J.

• R.J. re-elected Mayor of Toronto.


• A. Lloyd born to Lydia and R.J. Fleming.


• R.J. elected Mayor of Toronto.

• Laurier is Prime Minister of Canada.

• 1896 William P Hubbard elected Toronto’s 1st black alderman (R.J. thought highly of his son’s ability worked with in Toronto commisision ) Mr. Hubbard became advisor to family he helped family after R.J. ‘s death.


• R.J. last term as mayor.

• R.J. leaves to become assessment commissioner for pay of $4000.

• Queenie Fleming born-Catharines’ mom(named after Queen Victoria) 60 th jubilee of Queen Victoria big event in Toronto.


• Vern McAree joins staff of Mail and Empire.


• Murray Fleming born to R.J. and Lydia.

• R.J. went to live Mrs. Orford during real estate depression then. With the help of Mrs. Orford R.J. buys property way up in the country for a “song.” (Several of his children had been sick, and his neighbours had objected to the smell of his cows on Parliament Street. The house is at the corner of Bathurst and St. Clair which turns to mud in the spring, with an orchard and ravine. In the winter they closed house in “country” and moved back to Parliament.)


• Cabbagetown store had gone bankrupt. All the children have left Aunt Polly and Uncle John and soon they moved to brick house, very cheap at this time across the road from R.J. and Lydia at Bathurst and St. Clair.

• Evelyn was born to R.J. and Lydia. She will later become a surgeon in Inia.


• July 18th Everett Fleming dies(sudden heart failure)(he shared R.J. love of farming). Obit of Everett- Assessment Commissioner Bereaved.(appearing in paper July 19) The death occurred yesterday afternoon of Everett N. Fleming the eldest son of Mr. Robert. J. Flmeing, the Assessment Commissioner. The deceased was only eighteen years of age and had suffered for the past three years of heart trouble, the consequence of an attack of pneumonia. He was a bright, clever young man, and was well-known amongst the breeders of Jersey cattle throughout America, some of the most famous of whom predicted a brilliant future for him in that line. He is regretted most sincerely by a large circle of friends to whom he had endeared humanly by his many sterling qualities and unfailing kindness.

• Vern McAree writes his first column for the Mail and Empire (started as a criminal reporter)and becomes one of Canada’s 1st columnists. His 4th Column becomes quite famous.

• R.J. meanwhile is still assessment commissioner until 1905.


• Mary Ferguson Orford (Lydia’s mother) dies in her 75th year at St. Clair and Bathurst.


• Lydia’s brother William(Mary’s son) dies April 14th.

• April 19th 8:04 Fire alarm box # 31 at Bay and King was rung – There commenced “the great fire of Toronto.” Which spread from a room in E and S Currie’s neckwear, plant to envelop 14 acres in a ragin holocaust that did 13 million dollars worth of damage and put 5000 people out of work. Toronto’s business district wiped out. (From McAree’s Half Century of News Column) R.J.’s office on King St. at the time.


• R.J. became general manager of Toronto Street Railway Company.

• Agnes is born to R.J. last of their children.

• Joseph Fleming (younger brother of William) dies that year age 87. (His son went out west).


• Sir Robert Borden becomes Prime Minister.

• Sir Thomas White appointed Minister of Finance by Prime Minister Borden and managed Canada’s finances during World War 1.


• Isabelle Fleming one of three from west that came to live with Aunt Polly and she marries John Tripp. Brother was young Joseph(a younger son of pioneering Joseph) 3 youngest children came to live with Aunt Polly when their mom died from out west. The other 2 children stayed in Toronto.


• May 15th 60th anniversary of Aunt Polly and Uncle John story ran in two local Toronto papers. 2 newspapers.

• 1st World War begins

• A. Lloyd (R.J.’s son) is a captain in the Royal Air force his brother Goldwyn is also in war in the army.


• Sir Thomas White introduces income tax to Canada.


• Nov- May 1919 Sir Thomas White served as Acting Prime Minister of Canada while Borden was in Europe.


• Disappearance and probable murder of Ambrose Small(millionaire owner of the old grand opera house) walked out of office never to be seen again.


• R.J. president of the Ontario Prohibition Union.


• R.J. dies Oct 26th of pneumonia after loading his jersey cows in the rain.


• Meighen is Prime Minister for a short time

• 1926 William Lyon Mackenzie King elected Prime Minister (Mackenzie offered R.J. any cabinet post he wanted by R.J.).


• Catherine Fleming McKenty born.


• Vern McAree publishes book called Cabbagetown Store