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The Story of the Anchor at Anchor Park, Holland Landing

Everyone knows about Anchor Park as a lovely place to take the kids to the playground or to bask in nature on the picturesque walking trails. But why is there a large anchor there, and how did it come to reside there? Fear not, for that will be the subject of today’s blog post!

As you know, Yonge Street enabled the transit of goods and people from Toronto (then called York) up to Holland Landing, by stagecoach or by foot. There were also plans put in place for a port to be established at Holland Landing, so that men and material could be transported by ship all the way up to the military base in Penetanguishene. However, this grand vision of a port never materialized; the only shipping that was being done by water was at the Royal Naval Depot on Soldiers Bay. A plaque near River Drive Park shows where the Royal Navy area is thought to have been established.

During the War of 1812, there was a great need to build ships to help patrol the Great Lakes to combat the threat of the burgeoning American fleet. The Naval Yard at Penetanguishene was a construction facility for gunboats, steamers, schooners, and brigantines. In the summer of 1814, Sir James Yeo, who was the Commander of the Fleet on Lake Ontario, placed an order with the Royal Naval and Military Foundry in Chatham, England, for “the hardware needed for a 44-gun frigate, which was to be commissioned at Penetanguishene”. [1] In addition to everything else that the ship required, included in the order was a 4000-pound Kedge Anchor.

Figure 1: Engraving of the Anchor at Holland landing, with a person for scale. From Lake Simcoe and It's Environs, 1893, page 22.

This anchor was forged in England and shipped over to Canada by boat, measuring 15 feet in length. This journey took several months, and it arrived at Fort York in Toronto. This was where Lieutenant Brock, a distant cousin of Sir Isaac Brock, was stationed. It was then hauled up Yonge Street by 12 large bull oxen on a large sledge or sleigh. It took the team four days to take the anchor from Fort York to Soldier’s Bay. However, by the time it had arrived there, the war was declared over, as Britain had signed the Treaty of Ghent in 1815. The anchor was left there for more than 56 years, until it was moved over to Holland Landing Park in May 1872.

Just think about the stories that this anchor could tell, the next time you are visiting Anchor Park!

[1] Forsyth, Bruce (March 2020). “The Kedge Anchor – A relic of the War of 1812 in Holland Landing”.

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