Book Overview

“Muddy York : A History of Toronto Until 1834” presents over 12,000 years of local history in a concise and easy to follow style. Most books on Toronto’s history begin in 1834, when the old Town of York was incorporated into the brand new City of Toronto. But little attention is ever paid to the settlers and colonial forefathers who arrived on Toronto’s shores in 1793 and set up the fledgling town that would eventually become Canada’s largest city.

FrontCoverEven less attention is paid to what took place before European settlement in the Toronto region. “Muddy York” chronicles the history of the area’s first people. Thousands of years ago, the last ice age started to draw back, allowing early hunters to follow huge prey through the local territory. Eventually, these early people developed into the aboriginal cultures that met European settlers and traders, four hundred years ago.

“Muddy York” starts out by telling the fascinating history that took place before the Town of York was even established. It then follows through with a history of colonial development in the second half of the 1700s. Of course, you’ll meet John Graves and Elizabeth Simcoe, who spent two months travelling across the Atlantic from England to set up the early Province of Upper Canada, and learn of the hardships they faced as they settled into the wilderness.

“Muddy York” also examines two great events that shaped the Town of York and the early history of Toronto – the American invasion of 1813, and the Upper Canadian Rebellion of 1837. You’ll meet the characters who took centre stage in these events, and discover their motivations and reactions to these two major occurrences.

But, “Muddy York” also gives you a chance to wander the streets of Toronto’s old town. You’ll meet the people who made up the town that went on to be Toronto. You’ll discover where and how they lived. To quote from “Muddy York” itself, “they were a motley crew of heroes and rogues, of merchants and bankers, of gamblers, churchmen and sinners, and they were without a doubt some of the most colourful characters to ever saunter across a national landscape”.

Richard Fiennes-Clinton was born in Toronto, and has been involved with local Toronto history for 25 years. He is regularly involved with annual cultural and heritage events, and has spoken to a number of historical societies over the years. He frequently contributes to local television, radio and print media related to the history of the city. He is also a multifaceted speaker, giving talks on a variety of Toronto’s past. Notably, he also operates Muddy York Walking Tours.

You can find Richard or Muddy York Walking Tours on the following sites:




5 x 9 inches (15 x 22½ centimeters)








CONTACT for information on upcoming signings, as well as a list of retail locations where you can buy a copy of the book in person.

Or, simply book a tour and indicate that you would like to buy a copy of the book when you make your reservation!

Muddy York: A History of Toronto Until 1834

At last, my first book on the history of Toronto is ready for public consumption!

“Muddy York : A History of Toronto Until 1834” chronicles the early history of Toronto that never seems to make it into most other works. Readers will discover how the land was first settled, thousands of years ago, how the aboriginal communities of today came to be, what the Toronto area was like under the French Crown, and how it came to be an early British outpost.

Of course, a large part of the book is also dedicated to the Town of York itself, which was founded in 1793 by John Graves Simcoe, and incorporated into the city of Toronto four decades later in 1834.

You can brush up on the American Invasion of 1813, and read how the dye was cast for the Upper Canadian Rebellion of 1837. You’ll also read about the dozens of historical landmarks and noteworthy luminaries who once made up the old town. Some of them will be familiar names and places to many readers, while others will be almost unknown.

As I work to have this available both online and on the shelves in some historical locations, I also want to make it available at a few events.

So, on February 27th, 2016, I will be having a book signing at Campbell House Museum, one of the last surviving buildings from the days of the Town of York. I hope you can make it!

Book Launch for Muddy York: A History of Toronto Until 1834

Come visit me at Campbell House Museum, at 160 Queen Street West, for the next public signing of my new book, “Muddy York : A History of Toronto Until 1834”.



The event starts at 1 o’clock on Saturday, February 27th, 2016. A few light refreshments, along with coffee and tea, will be available. I will also be giving an illustrated presentation on some of the noteworthy landmarks that once surrounded Campbell House, at its original location at Adelaide and Frederick streets.

Campbell House Museum has been a resilient survivor from the days of the old Town of York. Built in 1822, it stood at its original location along Adelaide Street for 150 years. Threatened with demolition, the entire house was put on a flatbed truck and moved to its current location, at Queen Street West and University Avenue, in 1972.

Built as the home of Sir William Campbell and his wife, Lady Hannah, the house was once surrounded by a number of other historic buildings that made up the Georgian Town of York. A few survive today, but many are lost. My illustrated talk will explore just a few of these landmarks, as well as the lives of those prominent figures that lived and worked within their walls.

There is no charge for the event, but you will have an opportunity to buy my book. This new work covers a lot of the history that is left out of most studies of Toronto’s earliest history, including the last ice age, the arrival of the first prehistoric people in the Toronto area, the development of local aboriginal culture, Toronto under the French Crown, and the establishment of the Town of York in 1793. The rest of the work chronicles the lives of those who lived in York and worked towards its incorporation as a city in 1834.

While the event is free, it’s important that we receive confirmation from all of those who plan to attend. Space is limited, and we will be providing refreshments.

PLEASE NOTE that we request confirmation of your attendance by THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 25th. RSVPs can be made by emailing, or by calling (416) 487-9017. Unfortunately, we are unable to accept a “yes” on facebook as confirmation of your attendance. Please email or call at the address and number provided, in order to ensure that a space is reserved for you.

LOCATION : Campbell House Museum
160 Queen Street West (northwest corner of Queen Street West and University Avenue)
Campbell House Museum is located right outside the exit from “Osgoode” Subway Station.

ARRIVAL TIME : 1:00 p.m.

The event should conclude by approximately 3:00 p.m.

This event is being offered free of charge but reservations are ABSOLUTELY REQUIRED and can be made by emailing or by telephoning (416) 487 9017.