|History | Egerton Ryerson | His Career | His Legacy
A friend and admirer of Dr. Ryerson describes him in the
following words in the prime of a magnificent manhood':
"His well-developed finely-proportioned, finely-knit frame; his broad, lofty brow; his keen, penetrating eye, and his genial, benignant face, all proclaimed him every inch a man.
Dr. Ryerson was a man of exceptional physique and possessed of almost tireless energy. But he found it necessary in later life to take occasional vacations. One of his favourite havens was Ryerson's Island in Long Point Bay, the property which his father had obtained from the Crown and which was shown on old maps as Pottahawk Point.
In his memories The Story of My
Life, he tells of one vacation spent here in 1861:
"At Port Ryerse I made myself a little skiff, in which I rowed myself to and from Ryerson's Island, a distance of some thirteen miles from Port Ryerse, and about four miles from the nearest mainland�the end of Turkey Point.He continued these vacation jaunts to Ryerson's Island until late in life. For many years he was considered one of the best shots at Long Point. When over seventy years of age he killed from 70 to 80 ducks in one day in his punt and with his own gun.
Again, in his memoirs Dr. Ryerson describes another lake
"When invited to meet and address the common schools of the county of Norfolk at a county school picnic held in grove near Simcoe, the 24th of last June (1864), I determined to proceed thither not by railroad and stage as usual, but in a skiff 15 � feet long, in which I had been accustomed to row in Toronto Harbour for some months, between six and eight o'clock in the morning.
He returned to Toronto by water as he had come, encountering a fierce gale on Lake Ontario and only succeeding in reaching the Toronto Yacht Club House after herculean exertions.
In 1876, owing to the infirmities of his advanced years, Dr. Ryerson at his own request was relieved of the arduous duties of Chief Superintendent of Education. This office was then abolished and its functions vested in the Minister of Education. Dr. Ryerson retired on full salary of $4,000 after 32 years of tireless service.
Following his retirement, Dr. Ryerson occupied himself with his History of the United Empire Loyalists a voluminous work and one, which throws much light on the part played by U. E. Loyalists in the building of Canada.
He preserved to a late period in life wonderful degree of mental activity and to the last maintained his interest in public affairs, as in the Methodist denomination of which he had been so long a leading figure.
His death occurred at Toronto on February 19th, 1882, in his 79th year, with interment being made in Mount Pleasant Cemetery.
recognized his valuable services to the province by a grant of $10,000 to his
widow. One of his closest friends paid him this tribute:
"Such benefactors of his country as Dr. Egerton Ryerson deserve to be held in lasting and grateful remembrance. His imperishable monument, it is true, is the school system which he devised. To future generations of Canadians his career will be an inspiration and an encouragement. With early educational advantages far inferior to those which he brought within reach of every boy and girl in the land, what a noble life he lived, what grand results be achieved."
"The history of Upper Canada" declares another eulogist, "during a period of nearly sixty years, is as much bound up with the labours of Egerton Ryerson as with the work of any other public man. He gave us lofty ideals of the meaning and purpose of life, and he had an abiding faith in the power of popular education to aid in the realization of those ideals; he fought for free schools in Upper Canada when they needed a valiant champion. Let the present generation of men and women honour the memory of the man who wrought so faithfully for their fathers and grandfathers."
"At Port Ryerse
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