POST, JORDAN, watchmaker, businessman, and office holder; b. 6 March 1767 in Hebron, Conn., one of eight children of Jordan Post and Abigail Loomis; m. 3 Feb. 1807 Melinda Woodruff, and they had three sons and four daughters; d. 8 May 1845 in Scarborough Township, Upper Canada.
At the age of 21 Jordan Post left home to learn the trade of watch- and clock-maker. About the turn of the century his father, brothers, and sisters decided to immigrate to Upper Canada. At least one brother had taken up land in Pickering Township in 1798 and several family members settled in Trafalgar Township. Post Jr, as he became known, brought his trade to York (Toronto) in 1802.
As York’s first watchmaker, Post had a thriving business. His father, who arrived in the village about 1808, apparently did well as a bakery owner. The younger Post received a 200-acre grant in 1804 in Hungerford, an undeveloped township, and over the next 30 years he acquired considerable additional property. He shrewdly invested in land in the western section of York and in rural land slightly to the west of the town itself, in what would become the centre of present-day Toronto. From his sales of properties, which began in the 1820s and continued until his death, he made a substantial profit, far more than he could make at his trade. He also acquired a large property in Scarborough Township (lots 5 and 6 in concession 1), part of a lot in Markham Township, and four lots in undeveloped townships.
Aside from his trade and successful dealings in land, Post had other business interests. In 1813, with William Allan*, Alexander Wood, and others, he was a founder of the York Association, which issued “Bills for the convenience of making change” in business dealings, there being a shortage of specie in Upper Canada. For a brief time during the War of 1812, when business was poor, he kept a tavern. He did not, however, devote all his energies to making money. Like his father, he was a town officer, serving as a pathmaster in 1810 and 1819. His sense of civic duty also led him to set aside two parts of his town land, on Yonge and George streets, for market sites. Although neither market was ever developed, Post at least attempted to provide the citizens of York with something more than lots for sale.
Post also made contributions in the fields of education and religion. In 1820 he subscribed to the setting up of Thomas Appleton*’s common school in York and the following year became one of its trustees. Also in 1820 he pledged lumber worth £100 (Halifax currency), to be delivered within four years, for the building of a secessionist Presbyterian church.
In late 1833 or early 1834, at an age when many men contemplated slowing the pace of their lives, Post suddenly moved to his land in Scarborough to begin a new career. A sawmill was constructed on Highland Creek, which ran through his property, and his shipment of lumber to ports around Lake Ontario soon became a prosperous business. In addition, he kept a store. Post died in Scarborough in 1845. Henry Scadding* was later to describe him as a “tall New Englander of grave address . . . [who] always wore spectacles. From the formal cut of his apparel and hair he was, quite erroneously, sometimes supposed to be of the Mennonite or Quaker persuasion.” Although he is remembered chiefly as Toronto’s first watchmaker, in reality he was a prominent businessman and one of the city’s most successful early speculators.
[The author wishes to thank Mr William Daniels of Toronto, who provided information and constructive criticism. The Reverend C. Glenn Lucas, archivist-historian of the UCC-C, was also of assistance by providing documents relating to the Methodist church built on Post’s King Street property. r.j.s.]
AO, RG 22, ser.155. Conn. State Library (Hartford), Indexes, Barbour coll. PAC, RG 1, L1, 24: 8; 31: 449; 32: 421; L3, 401: P5/48, P7/2; 406: P15/59; RG 5, A1: 47568–71, 114832–34. Toronto Land Registry Offices, Abstract index to deeds, City of Toronto; Scarborough Township, concession 1, lots 5–6 (mfm. at AO). York North Land Registry Office (Newmarket, Ont.), Abstract index to deeds, Markham Township (mfm. at AO). “Marriage licenses issued at Toronto, 1806–1809,” Ontario Reg. (Madison, N.J.), 2 (1969): 225. “Minutes of the Court of General Quarter Sessions of the Peace for the Home District, 13th March, 1800, to 28th December, 1811,” AO Report, 1932: 171, 178. Town of York, 1793–1815 (Firth); 1815–34 (Firth). “Wesleyan Cemetery, Highland Creek, Scarborough,” comp. W. D. Reid, Ontario Reg. (Lambertville, N.J.), 6 (1982): 141. York, Upper Canada: minutes of town meetings and lists of inhabitants, 1797–1823, ed. Christine Mosser (Toronto, 1984). Death notices from “The Christian Guardian,” 1836–1850, comp. D. A. McKenzie (Lambertville, 1982). A history of Scarborough, ed. R. R. Bonis ([2nd ed.], Scarborough [Toronto], 1968). Hazel [Chisholm] Mathews, Oakville and the Sixteen: the history of an Ontario port (Toronto, 1953; repr. 1971). Robertson’s landmarks of Toronto, vols.1–3, 6. Scadding, Toronto of old (Armstrong; 1966). The township of Scarboro, 1796–1896, ed. David Boyle (Toronto, 1896). L. B. Jackes, “Jordan Post’s original hotel,” Globe and Mail (Toronto), 20 April 1954: 6.