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Fonds F 61 - Peter Robinson fonds
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Peter Robinson (1785-1838) was a politician and was involved in the movement of Irish emigrants to Upper Canada, for which the town of Peterborough was named after him.
He was born in New Brunswick and moved to Upper Canada with his family in 1792 as the eldest son of Christopher Robinson (an officer of the Queen's Rangers) and Esther Sayre (daughter of Rev. John Sayre). He had two brothers and two sisters. The family settled first at Kingston in 1792 and then York in 1798. He commanded a rifle company at the capture of Detroit in the War of 1812 and in 1813 he distinguished himself in the defence of Michilimackinac. In 1817 was elected a member of the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada for the east riding of York.
In the early 1820s, extreme poverty in Ireland led Robert Wilmot Horton to devise a plan of state-assisted emigration from various areas in Ireland. The task of supervising this plan was given to Peter Robinson. In 1823, approximately six hundred emigrants were given free transportation and supplies, and were settled in the townships of Ramsay, Huntley, Pakenham, and Goulbourn in the Bathurst district of Upper Canada. In 1825, Robinson helped organize a second emigration, and in May of that year, nine ships sailed from Cork, Ireland, carrying 2024 emigrants, 710 of whom were adults, and 1314 were children. The emigrants were landed at Quebec and taken by ship from there to Montreal and then on to Prescott and Kingston by bateaux. By September, most of the emigrants were in Cobourg, and Robinson proceeded to improve the trail to Rice Lake and to construct a large scow which carried the settlers and their effects up the Ottonabee to Scott's Plains (later named Peterborough in honour of Peter Robinson). Five buildings, the largest known as Government House, were constructed, while temporary shelters of various types housed the emigrants. Most of the settlers were located by lots by the end of 1825 and a total of 1878 people were settled around Scott's Plains, which included the townships of Emily, Douro, Ennismore, Ottonabee, Asphodel, Smith, Ops, and Marmora. One hundred acres of land were granted to each family, and Robinson had simple log cabins built on these lots. The emigrants were also given rations which were continued until November of 1826. The settlement proved costly for the government and it was not repeated
In 1827, Robinson was appointed Commissioner of Crown Lands and Surveyor of Woods and Forests, positions he held until 1836. He also held a seat in the Executive Council of Upper Canada from 1827 to 1836, and in the Legislative Council of Upper Canada from 1829 to 1838.
Scope and content
Fonds consists of a personal journal of Peter Robinson, as well as correspondence received by Robinson from government officials, settlers, and other individuals. Correspondence relates to: local events, events in England, the purchase of cattle by Robinson, settlers supplies, the occupation and ownership of various lots, and the surveying and settlement of Puslinch Township. Letters also contain recommendations for individuals as settlers, and letters of recommendation for various positions. Also included are requests for assistance from various individuals, such as requests for money and credit, and requests for letters of recommendation and introduction. Records are arranged chronologically.
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Associated material at other institutions:
The Peterborough Centennial Museum has additional Peter Robinson records. These have been microfilmed and are available at the Archives of Ontario. See inventory F 61 for a description of this material. To view this microfilm, consult MS 12, reels 1 to 3.
Related material at the Archives of Ontario:
Additional records related to the Peter Robinson settlers is found in Department of Crown Land records: Series RG 1-162 Fiats for land grants - Peter Robinson settlers; Series RG 1-163 Records relating to the Peter Robinson settlers; and Series RG 1-84 Returns of settlers in the Newcastle District.
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- Robinson, Peter, 1785-1838 (Creator)