CCHA Report, 1 (1933-1934, 57-67
HONOURABLE JAMES BABY, FIRST CATHOLIC MEMBER
OF THE EXECUTIVE COUNCIL OF UPPER CANADA
"A FORGOTTEN LOYALIST"
BY THE REV. BROTHER ALFRED [DOONER], F.S.C., LL.D.
On a small, weather-worn grave stone in the cemetery of the parish of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, Sandwich, Ontario, we read the following inscription, already partly effaced:
Here lie the remains of the Hon. James Bâby, member of the Executive and Legislative Councils and Inspector General of Upper Canada. Beloved and respected by all his acquaintances.
The unknown writer of that inscription might, unchallenged, have added to the scroll the words "Loyalist and faithful son of Holy Church." We shall see that as a Loyalist, James Bâby's individual record of sacrifice and service for King and Country, and that of his family, are perhaps, without parallel .in the early history of Upper Canada. Both in war and in peace, under 14 successive governors or government administrators, from Simcoe to Colborne, through a period of over 40 years, in the midst of many difficulties, Baby's loyalty and attachment to British allegiance remained unshaken and undiminished. Even his French blood, his French traditions and his French education failed to affect him. Writing on October 25, 1797, to his uncle François Bâby of Quebec, he says: "There is a rumor that France demands Canada, which, we hope is only a rumor." When the outbreak of the War of 1812 unmasked many a traitor in Upper Canada, several even in the House of Assembly; when whole companies of Miltia refused to march; when officers and magistrates feared to act; when the stout heart of Brock himself momentarily quailed at the realization of the magnitude of the difficulties which he was called upon to face, Bâby was an officer ever loyal and true, a wise and trusted lieutenant, a support in Council and a bearer of confidential despatches.
As a son of Holy Mother Church, Bâby never faltered in his obedience and devotion. His wealth, his talents and his influence were ever at the command of his bishop in the days when the young Church of Upper Canada lacked almost everything necessary for its existence and development. Such, in general outlines, was the man chosen by Lieut. Governor Simcoe, as first Catholic representative in the Executive Council of Upper Canada on the creation of the province by the British Parliament in 1791. The Catholic people of Toronto owe him a special debt of gratitude, for to him was due, in great part, the erection in 1822 of their first church, "Old St. Paul's."
James Bâby was born a British subject, "within the fort," at Detroit on August 25, 1763. It was during the harrowing days of the siege of Pontiac. The records of St. Ann's Church show that he was baptized the same day by Rev. Simple Bocquet, Recollect priest. His father was Du Perron Bâby and his mother Susanne Réaune.
The Bâby family comes originally from Guienne in France. Jacques Baby de Rainville, from whom all the Bâbys of Canada are descended, was born in 1533. He came to Canada in 1665 at the age of 32 years, as a member of the Carignan-Salières Regiment, a sergeant in the Company of Captain St. Ours.
This famous regiment of French regulars was brought out by Lieut. Gen. de Tracy to subdue the Iroquois. This they did effectively. Their officers, Sorel, Chambly, La Mothe, etc., have left their names in forts and bastions along the Richelieu, the field of their movements and military operations. When the regiment was disbanded in 1666, Jacques Baby, like many of his companions in arms, took up land and married in the colony. He settled in the Seigneurie of Champlain, not far from Three Rivers. He was a man of talent and industry, for we soon find him prosperous. Unfortunately, a premature death cut him off at the early age of 55 years, leaving to his widow a family of 12 young children. Only through the youngest son, Raymond, a child of postumous birth, was the family name carried on to our day. Raymond is described by Father Bocquet as "Bourgeois, Négociant de la ville de Montréal, de la paroisse de Notre Dame de la même ville." Of Raymond's family of 11 children, 4 sons, Louis, Du Perron, François and Antoine have left their names in Canadian History. Du Perron interests us most as he settled in Detroit. He is the father of James Bâby, the first Catholic Legislative and Executive Councillor of Upper Canada.
Just when the Bâbys settled permanently in Detroit has not been exactly determined. It is believed to have been about 1750, when the population of Detroit was scarcely 500 souls. A census of Detroit in 1709 mentions a Bâby as being present. At all events by the opening of the last quarter of the 18th century, Du Perron Bâby, father of James, was a wealthy Detroit merchant and fur trader. He was a practical Catholic and one of the Church Wardens of St. Ann's Parish.
Of the Réaume family, the family of James Bâby's mother, a representative came to Detroit shortly after Cadillac had laid the foundations of Fort Portchartrain, as the new fort was called in honour of the French Colonial minister of the day. It was Robert Réaume who was engaged on September 5, 1701, to escort Madame de la Mothe Cadillac, Madame Alphonse Tonti and their children by canoe from Montreal to Detroit. Susanne Résume, a daughter of Pierre Réaume, ensign of Militia and merchant, married Du Perron Bâby in Detroit on November 23, 1760. Out of the marriage 22 children were born, of whom James, the future Executive Councilor, was the fourth and perhaps the most distinguished.
It was in 1763 that the Treaty of Paris finally put an end to the Seven Years' War, after a world struggle. It was a complete triumph of British Arms. Quebec was taken by Wolfe's expedition in 1759; in 1760 Montreal, the last stronghold in Canada, capipulated to Amherst. With Montreal half a continent passed under British rule, for, at that time, Canada comprised not only what is today the Provinces of Ontario and Quebec but also that great triangular plain lying between the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers and stretching northward to the Great Lakes and westward to boundless and limitless horizons. Detroit was the principal town and fort in this western territory, and, to its population of 2,500 French citizens, the passing of French ascendancy was a staggering blow.
In the fall of 1760 Major Rogers appeared before the gates with letters from Vaudreuil ordering the surrender of the fort. He bore with him from Amherst a form of oath of allegiance to which all the inhabitants were asked to subscribe. Du Perron Bâby refused to sign He resolved to dispose of his property and retire to France, the land of his fore-fathers. This was only natural. His attachment to the French cause was great; he and his three brothers had taken a prominent part in the late war. Vaudreuil had summoned them to assist in the final stand before Montreal. In a certificate issued in July, 1760, they are mentioned, for outstanding services and for reward, to the King of France. Let us not forget also that the final outcome of the war was not known. No treaty of peace had yet been made. The various Indian tribes around Detroit were attached to the French cause and were determined to restore French rule. Du Perron Bâby, therefore, laid his claims of reward for services, and indemnity for losses sustained, before the government of Versailles, but, having experienced nothing but ingratitude and neglect, seeing his fortune in great part ruined, he reversed his decision, resolved to remain in Canada, to throw himself on the mercy of the conquerors and swear allegiance to the British Crown. From that moment his Britannic Majesty had never a more loyal subject. He soon became a most useful servant of the government, particularly in dealing with the numerous Indian tribes surrounding Detroit, whose languages he spoke and over whom he had acquired a marked ascendancy. His first important service was during the siege of Pontiac when it can be truly said he saved the fort for the British. Secretly, under cover of night, he supplied, from his own stores, food for Col. Gladwin's starving garrison. Thus the town was saved from pillage and the garrison from massacre at the hands of Pontiac's savage warriors.
Bâby had now completely won the confidence of the British authorities and appointments of trust soon followed. He was named, successively, Deputy Superintendent of Indian Affairs, Captain and Indian Agent, Lieutenant Colonel of Militia of the Detroit District, and Judge of the Court of Common Pleas.
On April 3, 1789, he was appointed by the Rt. Hon Guy Lord Dorchester a member of the Land Board for the District of Hesse. He died that same year.
The loyalty of Du Perron Bâby passed to his sons, no less than SIX OF WHOM served as officers under British colours, three in the Canadian Militia for the defence of Canada in 1812 and three as regulars in the British Army. JAMES BABY, of whom we write, was gazetted Colonel of the 1st Regiment of Kent Militia. He took a leading part in raising forces for the defence of Amherstburg in the War of 1812. He was with Proctor at the disaster of the Thames. His friend Tecumseh was cut down beside him while Bâby himself was captured and shut up a prisoner in his own home in Sandwich by General Harrison. JEAN BAPTISTE BABY was Lieut. Colonel of the 2nd Reginent of the Essex Militia and took part in the capture of Detroit. COLONEL FRANCIS BABY was Assistant Adjutant General under Sir Gordon Drummond in the War of 1812, and was recommended by Drummond for decoration for valuable services. He was with Brock at the capture of Detroit and received a medal and clasp. He was at the Battle of Raisin River, Frenchtown and Black Rack. He was captured by American scouts along the Thames on February 14, 1813, shamefully bound with cords, and taken to American Headquarters. DANIEL ANTOINE and LEWIS BABY entered the British Army as lieutenants and were promoted. Antoine died a retired major in France, while Daniel rose to the rank of Major General and died in London, England. In evil days he had drifted away from the faith of his fathers, but before his death he was reconciled with the Church by Cardinal Wiseman himself.
François Bâby, uncle of James, who, too, had taken the oath of British allegiance in Quebec, was as distinguished for services to the Crown in Lower Canada as was his brother Du Perron Bâby in Upper Canada. He became the trusted servant of Sir Guy Carleton, the Governor. His loyalty was beyond all shadow of suspicion even in the most trying circumstances. He was appointed successively Legislative Councillor and Captain of the 2nd Company of Militia at Quebec; assisted Governor Carleton in the defence of Quebec against Montgomery in 1775; was made Lieut. Colonel in 1778, and Adjutant General of Militia in Lower Canada in 1781.
The home government was anxious that there should be on the first Executive Council of Upper Canada a representative of His Majesty's "new subjects," as the French Canadians were called at the time. James Bâby was the man chosen. It was the opening of a bright career, as he was to continue, for half a century, the service of which his father Du Perron Bâby in Upper Canada and his uncle François Baby in Lower Canada had given him, as we have already seen, such a shining example. He was, at the time, only 29 years of age, educated, refined and accomplished in every way. He was tall and handsome and of a pleasing presence. He spoke and wrote English and French with equal facility. Some two dozen of his letters to Bishop Macdonell are to be found in the Archives of St. Michael's Cathedral, Toronto. They show that he almost perfectly mastered the English idiom. His education had been thorough. He made the most of his early studies under the Sulpicians at Montreal, and in 1779 he entered the seminary of Quebec, where, in the scholastic year of 1779-80, he made his rhetoric. From 1780 to 1782 he took classes in philosophy, He left the seminary on April 21, 1792. We find that he had written his father that he wished to return home. He was then, 19 years of age. The records, hovever, fail to show that he was an ardent student. The Abbé Lemaire de Saint Germain, who was his teacher, has left his appreciation of his year in Rhetoric. It is not flattering. The Abbé says "He was given to laziness rather than to work; he has not yet learned the value of his memory for which he can give no legitmate excuse." His years in philosophy were perhaps better. In any case, his letters which remain show that his years as a student were not lost. Since he was the eldest surviving son of the family, his father, a man of means, had spared nothing to give him the best to be had in the schools of Canada at that day. In his final year in Quebec he had taken lessons in dancing and fencing to prepare himself fittingly for the social life in which he was destined to mingle with army officers, military governors, men of education and culture, etc., whose presence in great numbers in Canada of that day gave an aristocratic tone to the society of all the garrison towns.
When James Bâby left Quebec seminary his father determined to round out and complete his education by travel. He sent him to Europe to meet business friends and acquaintances and to make additional contacts for a rapidly developing business of which the young man, by the rather premature death of his father, was, before many years, to assume entire control. It was while on this trip, fresh from school, while yet young and inexperienced, with a well garnished purse, that he made his first and only great "faux pas" in life. He contracted a secret and foolish marriage.
The early years of James Bâby's life were stirring years in the hstory of Canada. We saw that he was born when the savage yells of Pontiac's braves echoed around the palasades of Detroit. He was but a child of 12 years when the States of the American Union declared their independence, invaded Canada and besieged Quebec. For years after, rumors of war were ever rife along the Detroit frontier and the Canadian Militia were more than once on foot. American troops were ever advancing northward and westward from Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, at war with the Indians who were the friends of the British. A disputed boundary line was a continual cause of irritation. Canadian troops had to be organized along the Western boundary. In co-operation with Captain England, Commandant at Detroit, companies of militia were raised, composed almost entirely of French Canadians. Because of hostile movements on the American border they were called out by Colonel James Bâby in 1794, under orders from Lieut Gov. Simcoe. Bâby avoided everything calculated to precipitate a crisis. Simcoe wrote him, "You have acted in a most desirable manner as far as I can judge by what has been done and I shall soon go to testify to you in person my entire satisfaction." In the crisis of 1807, Bâby acted with similar prudence, for which he was congratulated by Lieut. Gov. Gore, who wrote "I have great pleasure inconveying to you my entire appreciation of your wise conduct."
Gore gave a further mark of this esteem and confidence, for on January 2, 1809, he appointed Bâby colonel of the first regiment of Keat Militia.
Constitutional changes were rapidly succeeding each other in the colony. Representative government was granted in 1791 and the country divided into two separate provinces. The parliament of Upper Canada was to consist of an elective House of Assembly with a Legislative and Executive Council appointed by the Crown. Col. John Graves Simcoe was appointed first Lieutenant Governor. Simcoe's Executive Council was sworn in at once and the first meeting was held at Kingston, Ontario. A bronze tablet commemorating the event was erected on the "Whig Standard" building on King Street, just opposite the market, by the "Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada," and reads as follows:
Site of St. George's Anglican Church (1792-1828) in which
on July 8, 1792 was held the first meeting of the Executive Council of the
Province of Upper Canada.
Members present: - Lieut.Governor John Graves Simcoe. The Hon. Wm. Osgoode, Chief Justice. The Hon. Peter Russell, Receiver General. The Hon. James Bâby.
The first Parliament of Upper Canada met at Newark on September 17, 1792. James Bâby attended as a member of the Executive Council. In fact his attendance to Parliamentary duties was ever remarkable. For over 20 years he made long journeys from Detroit over the worst roads in Christendom to be present. After his removal to Toronto in 1816 his attendance was exceptional; in 1818, out of 87 meetings of the Executive Council, he attended 81; in 1819, out of 70 he attended 70; in 1826 he attended every one of the 35 meetings. He attended faithfully until Febnary 7, 1833; on the 19th he died.
To the first House of Assembly 16 members were elected. It is note-worthy that of these 16 members 3 were Catholics: Col. John McDonnell, the speaker, representing Glengarry; Dol. Hugh McDonnell, his brother, also from Glengarry; and Francis Bâby, a brother of James, representing Kent. All thus were loyalists who had sacrificed and they had to remain within the empire. Another brother of James Bâby, J. B. Bâby, was a member of the House of Assembly in 1811.
James Bâby was greatly pleased when appointed by Gen. Simcoe to the office of Lieutenant of the County of Kent. Writing from Niagara to his uncle François Bâby in Quebec on July 12, 1793, he says:
General Simcoe has done far more than he promised, more than I had reason to expect. He has given me a commission as Lieutenant of the County of Kent, which you see, puts me at the head of our little community. His friendship and his favours go unceasingly. Yesterday, in a long conversation which I had with him, he let me know that he was going to appoint me judge of the Court of Common Pleas and also of the Surrogate Court.
This appointment was made March 7, 1794, in a document in which Simcoe praised the "loyalty, integrity, wisdom and courage of Bâby."
James Baby's appointment, by Simcoe, as Lieutenant of the County of Kent awakened susceptibilities and made unexpected trouble for him. The commandant of the regular soldiers of the fort of Detroit, then the chief town of the county of Kent, spurred on by intriguing and designing politicians, who were jealous of the advance of the young French Canadian, fomented an agitation against him.
A memoir written from Detroit, November 5, 1795, by Rev. Edmund Burke to the Rt. Rev. Bishop Denaut of Quebec explains the situation:
The commandant of the Fort of Detroit, who
was only a Lieut. Colonel in the army, found himself under the command of Hon.
Mr. Bâby, Lieut. of the county, who understood nothing about military affairs
and he was much provoked. It was a mistake of the governor's. He wishes to
remedy it by giving to the Commandant several extraordinary commissions to
withdraw him from the control of the lieutenant of the county There were
several English men who had been looking for the appointment of Lieutenant and
they employed a thousand means to withdraw the French Canadians. Their designs
have been unsuccessful; their jealousy was not less intense; they got around
amongst the "habitants" trying to make them believe that Bâby had no
authority; that they should not obey him, that he was a young man who acted
through fancy without knowing what he did. They tried then to excite the people
against him and make him unacceptable to the government. Never had any man a
position to suffer more in than he had.
It was, too, at this time that a wretch named Schifflin made false and villainous charges against him for having mismanaged the King's stores of which he was custodian, as an assistant agent of Indian affairs. Mr. Bâby's appointment created jealousy not only on the part of the Commander of the regulars at the fort but also amongst the Canadian Militia Officers in Detroit. Mr. Thos. Duggan writing from Detroit, July 30, 1793, to Col. McKee, Superintendent of Indian affairs says: "It appears that Mr. James Bâby's appointment of Lt. for County Kent has given umbrage to some great folks here who talk of nothing but resigning in consequence of it, I mean some of our Militia Officers."
A letter to John Askin, a wealthy merchant of Detroit, found in the Askin Papers, dated Niagara, November 13, 1792, shows that John Askin of Detroit wanted the commission of Lieutenant of the County of Kent. Smith, who had been elected member for Kent principally through Askin's influence in 1792, confesses that his efforts to help Askin in the matter failed because of influences in Quebec. This would lead one to infer that James Bâby owed his advance to the influence of his uncle François Baby with Lord Dorchester. Smith says: -
The interest which brought the young
French Canadian into the Councils has prevailed in having him appointed Lord
Lieutenant of the County of Ken,, and that interest was not only planted
previous to the government taking place but seems to have taken exuberant root
in Quebec where his consequences, his interest, his property and his loyalty
seem to have been emblazoned in lively tropes.
The French Canadian Militia in Detroit took occasion to celebrate the event of Bâby's appointment. In a letter written from Detroit, September, 1793, by Mr. Duggan we read:
The 10th, twelve o'clock, Mr. James Bâby, has ,just taken the oath as Lt. for County Kent at Forsiths and some of the French militia assembled on the bank and fired several volleys on the occasion.
In 1796 the Americans took over the fort and city of Detroit and the Stars and Stripes replaced the Union Jack, so James Bâby decided to remain a British subject and move across the Detroit River to British territory. He did so at trenendous sacrifice. His possessions on American soil were great. He owned some 30,000 acres of land, mills and a prosperous business. He took what compensation he could get and, in the village of Sandwich, began life anew, secure under the British flag.
For nearly half a century James Bâby sat as a member of the Legislative and Executive Councils of Upper Canada. During all that time he was identified with what is known in our history as the Family Compact which was composed of a group of men who dominated the Parliament of Upper Canada for 50 years. Bâby was one of the few Catholics who are found amongst the members. These men were mostly, like Bâby, gentlemen of considerable wealth and superior education, stubbornly attached to what we would today call autocratic ideas and methods of ;overnment. They believed in a privileged class. They have been accused of using their position and power for their own ends rather than for tàe good of the people at large. Bâby's conservative Catholic training inculcating respect for Constituted authority, whether in church or state; his traditional French regard for the monarchy and the sacred person of the King; his disgust at the horrors of the French Revolution; his refusal to accept American democratic ideas which were creating unrest and encouraging disloyalty in Upper Canada, made him an uncompromising champion of the King's authority as represented by the Lt. Governors of the province. He was very conservative and his place was naturally in the Family Compact. We cannot fail to remark, however, that he appears to have been a man of moderate views. When his son, in company with a number of Toronto youths, took part in the wrecking of W. L. Mackenzie's printing press on Sept. 25, 1824, Bâby rebuked the young man for his folly. Loyalty to him meant respect for the government of the crown and not the destruction of the property of a political opponent. His loyalty, we must say, stood every test. In critical days we find his name first on the list of signatures of the "Resolution Af the Catholics of York" drawn up on March 12, 1812, expressing gratitude to King George IV and confidence in Sir John Colborne the Governor.
When General Hull invaded Canada on July 12, 1812, he established his headquarters in Col. Francis Bâby's house situated in what is now the heart of the city of Windsor. Col. Bâby's gardens and fences were ruined and his cattle carried off, while 60 acres of oats, 70 acres of wheat, 40 acres of tinothy and 1000 young fruit trees were destroyed. General Hull admitted Bâby's claims for damage, but the American Quartermaster General refused to pay. This is seen in the claims which later on Col. Francis Bâby repeatedly made against the American authorities for compensation. On orders from Hull the home of Col. James Bâby in Sandwich was pillaged and his sheep and horses stolen. Mrs. Bâby fled with her five young children. As a result of the miseries of war she contracted sickness and died in the winter of 1812-13.
Tradition has it that Gen. Brock in 1812 set up his headquarters n Col. James Bâby's home in Sandwich. The tradition is emblazoned on a bronze tablet placed on the wall an the old Bâby mansion, by the Essex Historical Society and bearing the following inscription:
This dwelling was erected about 1790 by Hon. James Bâby, Legislative
Councillor. The Headquarters of Gen. Hull when he invaded Canada in 1812,
subsequently occupied by General Brock, Col. Proctor and Gen. Harrison.
Now, with all due regard for the Essex Historical Society and many Canadian historical publications, I must say that I have been unable to find any documents to prove that Hull or Brock ever occupied Col. James Bâby's house. The building could not have been erected "about 1790", as the inscription would lead us to believe, for at that time the property was an Indian Reserve or at least Government land. The records in the Registry Office in Sandwich, which I examined, show that the properly in question was granted by patent from the crown on March 20, 1801 to Alexander Duff. It passed into the hands of Hon. James Bâby only on Sept. 18, 1807. Bâby's residence, therefore, was built after that date. As to its occupation by Gen. Hull, the evidence of P. B. Casgrain, in his story of the Bâby family, shows that it was not Col. James Bâby's residence in Sandwich that Hull occupied but the residence of his brother Col. Francis Bâby in Windsor. Casgrain says that he visited the house in 1851 when Col. F. Bâby was still alive and saw the room occupied by Hull.
Late in 1313 Col. James Bâby's health gave way and he was forced to retire to Quebec for rest and medical care. Having recovered from his illness he was, following the close of the war, appointed Inspector General of Finances of Upper Canada. His appointment necessitated his moving to York, which he did in 1816. His five sons went with him. We find one of them attending Archdeacon Strachan's school and later we see his youngest son, Wm. Lewis, a student of Bishop McDonell's school at St. Raphael's, Glengarry County. He held much property in various parts of Upper Canada. In 1319 he purchased a lot of 114 acres on the Humber River, known to us today as the "Bâby Point" property. His Toronto home was near the corner of Scott and Colborne Sts., far up town at that time.
Bâby had already partially repaired his finances, which were in great part ruined by his leaving Detroit when the American authorities took over that city in 1796. He had acquired, as we have remarked, much land and he held numerous positions or commissions granted him by the government.
On Jan. 4, 1823, he was appointed by Lt. Gov. Sir Peregrine Maitland, KC.B., arbitrator to represent Upper Canada and settle various claims in dispute with the lower province. This he did to the satisfaction of all.
In York he made many friends amongst all classes of the citizens irespective of race or creed. His kindly nature, his urbanity and his easy approach attracted every one. He was a particular friend of Archdeacon Strachan, whom he appointed executor of his last will and testament. John Beverley Robinson, Hon. George H. Markland, the Hon. Thomas Clarke, etc., were his colleagues and associates in the Legislative Council and his close personal friends.
When James Bâby came to York in 1816 the village vas already over 20 years old. There was, however, no Catholic church, and no resident priest to care for the spiritual needs of the Catholic people, whose numbers were already beginning to increase. From time to time missionaries came and went. The Rev. Edmund Burke was in York on Feb. 25, 1800. Bishop McDonell was in York on Nov. 11, 1804. Missionaries were few and the Catholic people were very much neglected.
The building of a Catholic Church was undertaken in 1822. Bâby's correspondence which remains shows that, from the beginning, he was the soul of the enterprise and that Bishop McDonell left matters generally in his hands. He gave of his talents, hs time and his money to carry on the work to a successful completion.
In 1830 Bâby was a Church Warden in York. A generous giver, he headed every subscription list; he had loaned money to the church building fund, he donated necessary articles of linen, etc., and, from the turning of the first sod in May, 1822, until the completion of the church in 1824, he ceased not to be interested in every detail of the construction as well as the securing of funds to carry the enterprise through to the end. Bâby's letters to Hon. and Rt. Rev. Alex. McDonell tell the story of the progress of the work of the building of old St. Paul's. His first letter announces that St. Paul's Church was began in May, 1822, or at least early that year, and that he had written Father Fraser at Kingston for the dimensions of the Kingston Church and had also written Bishop Plessis of Quebec asking for financial help. On Monday, Dec. 23, 1812, he wrote to Bishop McDonell "our church is under cover and the walls secured from the danger of frost."
On Feb. 1, 1824, he announced that St. Paul's is completed and begs the bishop to get financial help in England for it; it is 90 feet long, with "elegant spire and steeple", and cost £1398 2 s 9 d or $6,990." Again he wrote stating his financial difficulties and says:
I am the only person responsible for the
undertaking ... the cost is great but the building is well worth it . . , [It
is] the neatest building of its kind in Upper Canada - the roof, steeple, a
neat gallery, a beautiful arched ceiling with cornices all in plaster of Paris
complete and painted.
His letters breathe a spirit of submission to the Bishop which is truly admirable. He wrote: "You may command my services feeble as they are in any manner you please; send me, therefore, your full power to that effect"
Such was the religious spirit of the man who carried his interest in the good of the Church to the very last. He was a constant attendant at church services and took part in all religious precessions or demonstrations of faith and piety.
Bâby was stricken suddenly with a hemorrhage of the brain; paralysis followed, depriving him of speech but not his faculties. He received the last sacraments with fervour and died on Tuesday Feb. 19, 1833, in his 71st year. The funeral was held from St. Paul's Church. The pall bearers, all Executive Councillors, laid his body to rest in St. Paul's Church Yard. It was later transferred to its present resting place in the Sandwich Cemetery.
I shall conclude with an
extract from what Bishop Strachan, the Anglican Bishop of Torontq wrote of him
in the "Gazette", a Toronto journal of the day:
It is with extreme concern that we announce to the public the loss of so valuable and respected a member of this society as the Hon. James Bâby.
He was a Christian without guile, affable and polished in his manners, courteous in his conversation, dignified in his deportment, warm in his affections, steady in his friendships and unshaken in his principles. The great object of his life was usefulness and the spring of all his actions was of the religious.
A great blank has been made in our social circle and one of the most worthy of our elders has been gathered to his fathers.