Monday, July 27, 2015

Dream 18 "Russell Creek" (Peter Russell, 1799)

Peter Russell dreamed that his sister Elizabeth had fallen ill. She’d taken a drink from the creek that ran through their property at Petersfield and within moments it seemed like her mind was failing her. She went quiet; stared at him blankly. When he asked, she couldn’t even remember his name.

Russell was in a panic. With his heart hammering in his chest, he hurried off to look for help, sprinting down the path of the creek toward the town below. He met plenty of people along the way — and they all agreed to help. But every time, they paused first for a drink. And as soon as the creek water touched their lips, they forgot who Russell was and what he’d asked of them. By the time he reached the outskirts of the town, there didn’t seem to be anyone left in York who remembered anything about him at all.

He collapsed — out of breath, dejected, exhausted — in the middle of the road. And when the new Lieutenant Governor came to him with a cup and suggested that a drink might do him good, Russell didn’t fight it. He just dipped the cup into Russell Creek and drank deep until he forgot who he was.


Peter Russell was a slave owner, a gambling addict and Toronto's first truly terrible leader. He temporarily filled in as the head of the province while John Graves Simcoe, the Lieutenant Governor who founded our city, was sick at home to England.

You can read more about Russell's life on Spacing here. Explore more Toronto Dreams Project postcards here.

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