3 1833 03395 2349
Gc 971 . 302 T63 j v. 2
Jackes, Lyman B.
Tales of north Toronto
Price 50 cents
The contents of this book are fully protected by
Canadian copyright. All rights reserved.
SIR GEORGE YONGE,
the man whose name was given to Yonge Street.
He was Secretary for War in the British Gov-
ernment when John Graves Simcoe was
appointed first Governor of Upper Canada in
1792. Sir George and Governor Simcoe were
great friends, and when Simcoe cut the road
through the forest from York to Cooke's Bay at
the south extremity of Lake Simcoe he gave
the new road the name of Yonge Street in honor
of his friend.
Before Niagara Falls
NORTH TORONTO is. geologically speaking, very different from the
remainder of the city. Some eight or nine thousand years ago what
is now North Toronto was the beach land of a great lake. The level
of the water is clearly marked today in the ridge of land that runs across
the city. Balmoral Avenue, Wells Hill and the ridge that runs down to
Scarborough Bluffs are all remnants of the old northern shore line. Farther
to the west the shore line extended up into the present Caledon country.
The Shoreline of an Ancient Lake
The hill that crosses the city just below St. Clair Avenue
is the shoreline of an ancient lake. It is known to modern
geologists as Lake Iroquois and was formed after the last
ice age some twenty thousand years ago.
The southern shore of this ancient lake is well marked in the heights at
Queenston and in the so-called Hamilton mountain. On the high escarp-
ment immediately to the south of Grimsby the author has picked up fossil
remains of fresh-water creatures that once lived and swam in this ancient
lake. Geologists have given the lake a name. On geological maps it is
marked as Lake Iroquois. The outlet was not through the St. Lawrence
valley, as is the case with Lake Ontario. The waters of Lake Iroquois
reached the sea by way of the Hudson River valley. When what is now
central and down-town Toronto were "all wet", and' the site of North
2 TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
Toronto was beautiful beach land, the St. Lawrence River valley was all
choked up with great masses of ice that had been left as debris when the
ice of the last Ice Age commenced its northward recession. How long ago
did these conditions exist? A study of the geology of the Niagara River
gives some clew and pi-ovides a partial answer. There is ample evidence
to indicate that Niagara Falls commenced at Queenston. The power of the
falling water to cut away the rO'Ck is fairly well known. It is a fairly
average amount each year. If the rate of cutting has been more or less
constant, it has required the passage of some eight and a half thousand
years for Niagara Falls to cut its way to the present position. But the
problem is not quite so simple of solution. Near the Whirlpood there is a
stretch of river that is much narrower than the rest of the stream. The
rock Is similar, but something has happened to reduce the flow of water
and retard the cutting action. That is one of the unsolved mysteries of
Niagara. This reduced action may have continued for five hundred years
or for five thousand years. No one knows today. That element makes the
guess of the age of old Lake Iroquois rather an uncertain quantity. But
the fact remains that the hill on Bathurst Street, Avenue Road and Yonge
Street, just to the south of what is now St. Clair Avenue, is a very inter-
esting geological relic. Modern motorists do not regard it with much
favor, especially on wet and slippery days.
What happened to this ancient lake? As the ice commenced to melt
in the St. Lawrence Valley the water of Lake Iroquois gradually reached
out and cleared a passage to the sea. This new channel reduced the level
of the water. It gradually fell to a point where it was below the entrance
to the Hudson Valley, and the St. Lawrence route continued as the only
outlet to the sea. As the water of Lake Iroquois fell, the water of what is
now Lake Erie commenced to spill over the escarpment at Queenston, and
Niagara Falls was born. The waters of Lake Iroquois levelled off and the
new level is the present Lake Ontario.
Where there any human beings here at that time? There is some
evidence to suggest that there were. North Toronto, as far as the author
is aware, has not produced any direct evidence in support of such a theory.
The Don Valley has. Some years ago, the late Professor Coleman, one of
the greatest geologists that the Empire has evolved, received a telephone
call from one of the foremen at the Don Valley Brick Works. The call
suggested that the professor leave his desk and hurry out to the yards.
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO 3
Something had come to light as a result of blasting. When Professor Cole-
man arrived he was directed to the remains of a charcoal fire with remains
of animal bones in the immediate vicinity. The blasting powder had lifted
the overburden and exposed a bit of strata that had once been level
ground. The remains of the fire and the meal that had been cooked upon
it had come to view. The discovery was carefully removed and is now on
display in the Royal Ontario Museum. Professor Coleman estimated that
the fire had been used twenty thousand' years ago. Were these hunters
from the Mound Builders or from some unknown tribe who preceded them?
No one knows today. Only human beings can light a fire and cook a meal
upon it. This interesting relic is mute evidence that human beings of some
kind roamed about what is now North Toronto many thousands of years ago.
The Great Indian Village
rp^HE story of the great Indian settlement that was recorded in the
first publication of Tales of North Toronto, caused a great deal of
interest in local history. The author received numerous telephone
calls asking for more information and some of the local schools requested
personal visits to tell the children more about the subject.
In the first volume it was stated that the Minister of Education had
ordered a report on the matter to be made by the Provincial Archivist
of long ago — many persons have stated to the author that they have
been unable to find that report in the Provincial Legislative Library.
The report was made on December 20, in the year 1887. It is signed
by David Boyle and reads as follows:
As soon as the season was well enough advanced to make
digging possible (April 30, 1887) I visited Lot 2, Con. 1. Township
of York, within sight of Toronto, as many interesting relics had
been picked up in this neighbourhood, it seemed a promising place
in which to begin operations.
On the rear of this lot, which is part of the Jackes' estate,
is a mound evidently of artificial formation, although the only
indications that remain are distinctive soil and considerable
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
quantities of charcoal and ashes. The situation is high and dry,
and the trees close to the mound are comparatively young.
The discoveries of two or three fragments of what appeared to
be corn cobs suggested the probability of this earth-heap having
been employed by the Indians as a cache or deposit for maize.
Indian Relics From North Toronto
In Volume I of Tales of North Toronto, attention was called to
the great Indian village that covered much of what is now North
Toronto 300 years ago. These relics were unearthed during a
recent excavation on Castlefield Avenue. The centrepiece is a
tomahawk head of Iroquois manufacture. The arrowheads, the
pipe bowl and the fragment of pottery are of Huron manufacture.
The whole of the surrounding country abounds in traces
of various aboriginal manufacture — flint chips, broken pottery
and bone implements — and the museum of the Institute contains
many fine specimens from the same neighbourhood presented by
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO 5
Mr. B. Jackes of Toronto, Mr. J. Long of Lansing and Miss
Marshall, teacher of the school section in which the property is
David Boyle, Toronto, December 20, 1887. Annual Report, to the
Minister of Education of the Canadian Institute Session 1886-7.
CetiTLE: FIELD AV£
The Outlines of North Toronto's Great Indian Settlement
The dotted line on this map gives the location of the great
pallisade fence that enclosed the village. Ih has been esti-
mated that as many as 30,000 persons lived here about the
The Legislative Library in the Parliament Buildings at Toronto,
also has another document that throws light on this great Indian story.
This document is a large map of New France (Canada) prepared
for Lord Halifax, Minister of War in the British government in the year
1750. The map is large and! displays considerable detail. The section
6 TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
of the western portion of Lake Ontario shows the French fort "Fort
Toronto" which was erected only one year prior to the preparation of
the map. The site of Fort Toronto is marked by a stone cairn on the
shores of Exhibition Park, near the southwest corner of the park. The
map indicates a dotted area extending northward from a point east of
Toronto and including all of what is now southwestern Ontario and the
Georgian Bay ai'ea. The map states that the area thus enclosed has
been overrun by the Iroquois Indians for more than a hundred years.
The Iroquois wiped out the great Huron settlement at Fort Ste. Marie,
near the present municipality of Midland, in the year 1649. Did they
destroy the settlement in North Toronto on their way to or from that
Recently the author was presented with a number of relics from
this great village. These relics had come to light during excavation
for a basement on Castlefield Avenue, west of Avenue Road.
The collection consisted of two splendid flint arrow heads, a portion
of a pipe, and a piece of decorated pottery. These were all of Huron
Indian manufacture. Found near these relics was a splendid tomahawk
blade of stone. The type of stone of this axe head is not native to
this part of Canada. It is a common stone that is found in central
New York State. The Iroquois came from what is now New York State.
Does this indicate that the Iroquois attacked the great North Toronto
Bettlement, and wiped it out sometime in the year 1648 or 1649? It is
only from an intelligent study of such remains that these mysteries of
history can be solved.
The first industry known to North Toronto was a plant for making
soft soap from hardwood ashes. This plant operated at a point that is
now the Yonge Street entrance to Glengrove Avenue. It commenced
operation in the year 1799.
Many readers will recall a frame antique shop that stood on the west
side of Yonge Street just to the north of the iron bridge that carries
the C.N.R. tracks across Yonge Street. The old shop was demolished
recently to make way for the T.T.C. subway. It was erected in 1832 by
a retired navigator, who had sailed Lake Ontario for some years after
coming to the town of York when he left ocean service.
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO 7
A Journey Up Yonge Street In
The Days of Long Ago
IN a story of this nature it is difficult to set definite boundaries which
make a sharp mark-off for the various episodes that are recorded. A
century ago the incorporated City of Toronto was creeping northward
toward what is now Bloor Street. Underneath the old Huntley Street
bridge is the site of a millpond and brewery that was operated by a man
named David Bloor. His millpond backed up through the Rosedale ravine
to a point a little to the east of Yonge Street. The name of Bloor has become
associated with the roadway that fronted his industrial establishment. It
has since been officially given to it. A century ago, what is now Bloor
Street was known as the First Concession North. Yonge Street, in those
days, was a mud roadway that stopped at Cook's Bay, at the extreme south-
ern end of Lake Simcoe. It was crossed every mile and a quarter by a
crossroad that was given a number as a Concession. These Concession
roads numbered northward from Queen Street, which was the First Con-
cession line. Bloor Street was the Second, St. Clair Avenue was the Third,
Eglinton Avenue was the Fouth, and Lawrence Avenue was the Fifth.
As Yonge Street wended its way northward there were various little
communities along the way. Just to the north of Bloor Street was the
Town of Yorkville. A space of open country was then encountered and the
settlement of Deer Park came into view. More open space and the village
of Davisville was entered. Then came the Town of Eglinton. The next
settlement was around what is now Lawrence Avenue. More open space
and the visitor came to the Village of Bedford Park, and to the north of
that nestled the Village of York Mills.
These were all separate little municipalities. They had no political
or other connections with the City of Toronto. Each was run by its own
and distinct council, and almost all of them had its own little newspaper
that recorded local news and gave a hint of what was going on in the
outside world when such very sparse information was available. There
w^ere no cable or radio news services in those days. There were a few miles
of telegraph wires in Upper Canada, but no telephones. A telegraph line
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
stretched down from Toronto to Quebec, and news that was brought in by
incoming ships was relayed when the telegraph operators got around to it.
The news of some outstanding event that had occurred in England might,
with good luck, reach Toronto some six or seven weeks later.
What was to be seen by the visitor as he wended his way over the bumpy
mud road that was Yonge Street in the year 1851 There was a stage
coach line that went as far as Richmond Hill. These coaches started north-
ward from the famous Red Lion Hotel that stood on the east side of Yonge
Street a few yards to the north of Bloor Street. Other coaches operated
from the Red Lion, down through Toronto, and connected with the Market
The Red Lion Hotel plays such an important part in the story of North
Toronto that it is given a place of honor amongst the illustrations. A draw-
ing of the Red Lion will be found on the two centre pages. This hotel was
a few yards north of what is now Bloor Street. It did not take in the
corner lot. Its
frontage extended ^ *'*^''
for some two hun-
dred feet on
commenced in the
year 1807, and
during the imme-
diate years that
were several ad-
ditions made to
the original build-
ing. This gave the place a rambling appearance. The upper floor
of the central portion was given over to a large ball room that was
heated by an immense fire place. In the days of the Town of York and the
early years of incorporated Toronto, this Red Lion ball room rivalled the
hall in the St. Lawrence Market. This hall was used for purposes other
than dancing, and this will be dealt with in another section of this book.
A century ago the Red Lion was the gateway to what is now North Toronto,
The Home of Sir David MacPherson
A stately home at the north-east corner of
Yonge Street and MacPherson Avenue. About
the year 1900 this building became the first
home of St Andrew's College.
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
and the author will ask the reader to assume that he has boarded a stage
coach In the yard of the Red Lion and has commenced a journey up Yonge
Street a century ago. What would the visitor see?
As soon as the horse-drawn vehicle started north, the great brewery of
George Severn would come into view. This great industrial establishment
stood on the site now used by the Canada Tire Corporation, and the sloping
runway that runs down from Yonge Street just to the north of Davenport
Road was the actual roadway leading into the brewery. The millpond of
Bloor's brewery came up to the eastern extremity of Severn's property.
Severn did not depend upon water power to operate his grinding mills. A
tall brick chimney gave evidence of early steam power.
__^_^__ The coach, on its
then entered the Vill-
age of Yorkville. On
the east side of
Yonge Street there
is an ancient leather-
ment with its store
front unchanged in
the century that has
passed. On one or
two of the streets
running off Daven-
port Road there may
still be seen very
ancient corner stores
that once played an
important part in the
commercial life of
this little village be-
fore it was swallow-
ed up by the expand-
ing city to the south.
As the visitors pass-
ed through the
stood on the east side of Yonge Street where
the Baker Advertising Company has now
located. It was built by John Rose, who gave
the name to Rosehill Avenue. It was purchased
by Mr. Joseph Jackes and his son, Mr. E. H.
Jackes, gave the name to Jackes Avenue when
he opened the property through to the Reser-
voir some years ago.
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
village he would notice on the left a dilapidated grave yard. The Yorkville
fire hall now is located right in the centre of that once-forlorn spot. This
was the Potters Field, the resting place of the homeless and the pennyless
poor who had died in Toronto without the benefit of friends or relatives to
see that their mortal remains were given a decent burial. It was in this
field, and exactly under the site of the present Yorkville fire station, where
the bodies of Lount and Matthews were placed after their untimely execu-
tion in April of the year 1838.
A Famous Yonge Street Hotel
O'Halloran's Hotel on the south-east corner of St. Clair
Avenue and Yonge Street was a landmark of North Toronto
until it was demolished in 1923. It was originally operated
by a Mr. Sellers.
The coach proceeded northward. A short distance after leaving York-
ville, the palatial country home of Sir David MacPherson comes into view.
It stood on the north-east corner of what is now MacPherson Avenue and
Yonge Street. The house was surrounded with well-kept lawns. It had a
wind mill pump that gave a water system under pressure, and farm lands
that belonged to the estate ran for a considerable distance eastward into
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
what is now Rosedale. It was in this old MacPherson homestead that St.
Andrew's College commenced operations in the very early years of the
present century. After a few years of very successful operation there, a
new building was erected some distance to the east, in Rosedale. Expand-
ing growth soon called for additional extensions, and the college was moved
to its present site near Aurora. The second college building was torn
down and the lands turned into park space. Farm lands extended on both
sides of Yonge Street and the coach passed the Third Concession line
(now St. Clair Avenue). On the north-west corner of St. Clair Avenue and
Yonge Street there was a well-developed farm. Before the coach proceeded
across the concession line it made a stop at O'Halloran's Hotel on the
The Building That Rose From the Ruins of the
Famous Montgomery's Tavern
When the Davisville Hotel was demolished, this structure
was erected over the foundations of Montgomery's Tavern
that had been burned by government troops during the
Mackenzie Rebellion of December, 1837. .
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
south-west corner of St. Clair and Yonge Street. Here there was full
accommodation for man and beast. The mile and a quarter journey from
the Red Lion had been made over bumpy, muddy roads, with steep hills to
be negotiated, and a rest at O'Halloran's was quite in order. As the visitor
refreshed himself he could look out through the north windows of the
establishment and see something that few, if any, farmers in the district
could boast of: a herd of tame deer that would come down to the corner
of the farm property to be fed by visitors as the coach was making ready
for its continued trip to the north. This herd of tame deer became so
famous that they gave the name to the district. Ever since it has been
known as Deer Park.
The Davisville Post Office in 1900
The Davis family, from which Davisville was named, were
pioneers in North Toronto. One branch of the family ran
this general store and Post Office at the north-east corner
of Davisville and Yonge.
On the northeast corner of St. Clair Avenue and Yonge Street there
was a curious sight for many years. In 1910 the Dominion Bank demolished
the old stone structure that had been the Head Office at King and Yonge
Street, for many years. The demolition was made to clear the way for
the modern structure that is now seen at King and Yonge.
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO 13
The bank executives entertained an idea of reconstructing the old
stone building, in part at least, at St. Clair and Yonge.
For some years the massive stone figures and other huge blocks
of stone were stored on the lot. When it came time to erect the
branch building the architects advised against the scheme. The present
modern branch was erected and the old stone work carted away.
The author has often heard his father, the late Price Jackes, recall
an incident in connection with the ancient tavern at St. Clair and Yonge.
When my father was a boy he lived at Castlefield, a stately old
home that stood on the west side ol^ Yonge Street, a short distance
north of Eglinton Avenue.
The young men of the family, after they had graduated from the local
school, were sent to Upper Canada College; then located on King Street
West just where the Royal Alexandra Theatre is located today. The time
of this episode is in the early sixties of the last century — a time when
the Civil War was raging in the United States.
At that time there was a line of horse-drawn cars that went north
on Yonge Stree as far as Bloor. The young lads from Castlefield were
required to walk down as far as Bloor and then take the horse car down
to King Street. Sometimes on market days some obliging farmer, returning
from market, would give them a lift northward from Bloor Street.
It was on one of these rides that they drew up before the old hotel
and the farmer told the boys he was going inside to get a snack to eat
to hold his appetite until he arrived home to his dinner.
It was a cool autumn afternoon and the boys went in to keep warm
while the farmer 'consumed his "snack".
To the amazement of the boys from Castlefield the farmer sat
down to a table and ate an entire roasted duck. That was just a snack
to hold him until dinner time.
The coach proceeds, and not far above St. Clair Avenue a country
road leads off from Yonge Street. This road runs in a north-westerly
direction and at its junction with Yonge Street a little frame church
has been erected. This site today is used by the Toronto Trans-
portation Commission for its Lawton loop. Christ's Church, the little
frame church referred to, was painted red, and it made a vivid contrast with
the dense foliage that surrounded it. There were farm lands where Mount
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
EXTRAO RDINARY !
The Municipal Machinery of North
Toronto has Stopped !
Pleasant Cemetary is now fenced in, and when these farm lands were
passed the visitor on the north-bound stage coach entered the Village of
Davisville. The post office and general store were on the east side of
Yonge Street, and on the south-east corner of Davisville Avenue and Yonge
Street stood the Davisville Hotel. It was a two-storey brick structure with
a verandah on the west and
north sides, with ample stab-
ling accommodation at the
south end. Just to the north
of the Davisville Post Office,
about where the Imperial
Bank stands today, the Davis-
ville Pottery Works were
located. This was one of the
busiest industrial sites on
Yonge Street of a century
ago. There was a great open-
air tank in which the clay
was mixed, and a great
wooden paddle was suspend-
ed over it. This paddle was
turned by the efforts of a
horse which walked around
and around the tank. In the
rear of the property three
great firing kilns had been
erected, and in these the
sewer pipes and the flower
pots and other forms of pot-
tery were fired and made
ready for commerce. The east
side of Yonge Street, at Davis-
ville. was a large market
garden, and one of the first
greenhouses to be erected in
North Toronto was on this
property. There was a few
YOU ARE INVITED TO COME AND BRING
25c. worth of Oil and a. Flail
TO THRESH OUT THE
Sewerage and other Questions
Ratepayers' Association Meeting
Saturday Eve.. Oct. 9th
AT THE TOWN HALL
As tliore are 50 extru chairs ordered (or tlie hall all
Kxcraitiye Committee ueet at 7 30.
D. D REID.
An Old Handbill of 1909
This handbill was distributed in North
Toronto in October, 1909. The meeting
took place in the old Town Hall, north-west
corner of Montgomery and Yonge.
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
straggling houses and the Methodist Church between Davisville and Eglinton
Avenue. At Eglinton Avenue, where the sheds of the Toronto Transporta-
tion Commission are now located, there was a market garden. The north-
west corner was occupied by Hull's butcher shop, and across the road on
the north-east corner was the Little Palace, a grocei-y and general store.
At Montgomery Avenue and Yonge Street two important buildings reared
their heads. On the south-west corner stood Oulcott's Hotel that had been
built, in part, on the foundations of the famous Montgomery's Tavern.
Across the road on the north-west corner of Yonge and Montgomery, the
North Toronto's Town Hall
This building has been replaced by No, 12 Police Station, The
original corner stone, bearing date 1882, has been incorporated
in the new structure. The metal-clad shed was the first North
Toronto fire station, and the barn in the rear was used as a
storage shed for the Works Department.
Town Hall was located. This structure contained the municipal offices of
the Town of Eglinton, the police office, the fire station, and in the rear
there was a metal-clad shed for the storage of other municipal equipment.
The first fire engine consisted of a one-horse, two-wheeled rig that carried
a few hundred feet of fire hose.
On the west side of Yonge, a short distance above the Town Hall, stood
the stately structure of Castlefield. The story of Castlefield has been fully
covered in Volume One of the Tales of North Toronto. There is reproduced
here one of the ten dollar notes issued by William Lyon Mackenzie to
finance the rebellion of 1837. This note is made payable to James Hervey
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
Price, who had built Castlefield, and at the time of the rebellion was the
City Clerk of the then infant City of Toronto. These notes are now very
rare. Following the failure of the fight at Montgomery's Tavern, persons
who held these notes were quick to burn them so that they could not be
used as evidence against them. Mr. Price backed Mackenzie with a great
The Ellis Homestead in Bedford Park
deal of money and as a consequence he was obliged to sell Castlefield in
1842. It was purchased by Franklin Jackes, who resided there for ten
years until his death in April, of 1852. Franklin Jackes was the first
Warden of York County and held that office during 1850-51 and part of 1852.
Continuing up Yonge Street the next structure of importance to come
into view was the Methodist Church opposite Glengrove Avenue. Glengrove
Avenue was a driveway leading into Glen Castle, a great, rambling structure
of stone that stood just to the east of the present John Ross Robertson
School. It had been built by the Ainsley family and was not demolished
until 1925. On the south side of the pine-lined driveway that is now Glen-
grove Avenue, a Mr. King Dodds erected a race track in the year 1887. It
was back about three hundred yards from Yonge Street. It was not a
financial su'ccess and was closed after two years of operation.
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
Between Glengrove Avenue and Lawrence Avenue, Yonge Street wended
its way through rolling hills. On the south-east corner of Lawrence and
Yonge there was a large farm operated by Mr. Frank Lawrence. On the
south-west corner there was a rag carpet works operated by David Bell.
On the north-west corner stood the general store of Mr. George Lawrence.
Lawrence Avenue and Yonge Street in 1895
George Lawrence kept a general store where the
Dominion Bank branch is now located.
On the west side of Yonge, a bit above Lawrence, there was a structure
that still stands and operates. It is the grocery and hardware store of the
Atkinson Brothers. This is the oldest continuing business in North Toronto
and is a clear demonstration of what goodwill can do against the onslaught
of the chain stores. On the north-west corner of Bedford Park Avenue and
Yonge Street was the stately home of Mr. W. G. Ellis, and a little to the
north of that was located the Bedford Park Hotel. A portion of this
structure still stands, but the front has been modernized into stores.
The next place of importance on the northward journey was York
Mills. Another hotel was located there and also a grist mill. The story
of this mill is of sufficient importance that a separate section of this book
has been devoted to it.
18 TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
The Mill At York Mills
GOVERNOR John Graves Simcoe, when he moved the capital of Upper
Canada from Newark (Niagara-on-the-Lake) to York, in the year
1793, gave very serious thought to the establishment of water power
mills in the vicinity of his new settlement. The first of these mills to
arise was the one whose ghostly walls still rise beside the Humber near
Bloor Street. It was originally a saw mill but was later taken over by
the Gamble family, enlarged and turned into a grist mill. Within a few
years there were upwards of a dozen mills operating on the Don and
Humber rivers. Some of these had been started with government aid and
the others had been built and financed privately.
It was in the year 1807 — the same year in which work was started
on the Red Lion Hotel, that an asute settler saw the water power possibil-
ities in the valley that is now known as Hogg's Hollow. It is true that
there was no waterfall on the Don at that point but a high cliff to the
north and several acres of flat land across the stream indicated that
the water could be held back to create a large mill pond with considerable
The great earthwork, which crosses the meadow below the modern
motor highway, was thrown up and across the actual Don a dam of heavy
logs was constructed. The northern face of these logs was anchored
into the clay bank which still discloses its great bare scar to the visitor.
From the southeast corner of the mill pond a sluice was cut. This
was the mill race and brought the water from the pond to the mill. This
old mill race is still to be seen and the path beside it, enclosed in cedar
trees, is the famous lover's walk of York Mills today.
The map is meant to make all this clear. The actual site of the mill
is still marked by a small pile of rubble, beside the stream and almost
below the viaduct.
The original mills, as built by Hoggs, was a frame and log
structure. It was a grist mill for the most part, though there was a power
driven saw for cutting logs into boards. The reader must realize that
during the first half of the last century there were stands of splendid
timber to be found in many parts of what is now North Toronto.
After some fifty years of operation it was found that the surplus water
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
that spilled over the dam was eating into the clay bank and endangering
the anchorage of the wooden portion of the dam. Over several years,
frantic efforts were made to give the dam a stronger hold on the clay. But
at last the stored up water, strengthened by spring floods, was too much.
The Mill at York Mills
This was the last of many mills on this site. The first mill
was erected in 1807. This brick structure, destroyed by fire
some twenty-five years ago, was used by the widow of a
former Anglican bishop as a summer home.
The entire wooden portion of the dam was washed away and when the
flood of water had rushed down the Don all that was left of this great
work was the earthen portion of the dam and the floor of the former
mill pond a sea of mud.
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
A study of the situation convinced the owners that the replacement
of the washed-out dam was not practical. They decided on a bold move.
The surrounding country was plentifully supplied with wood. Why not
drive the mill with steam power and generate the steam from wood fires?
Such a bold scheme as this required that much of the mill be rebuilt.
While much of the original wooden structure was being replaced with
stone and brick; a steam engine and boiler was being constructed in an
Iron works at the southeast corner of Adelaide and Yonge Streets.
How The York Mills Mill Worked
This map shows the water power that oper-
ated the mill. The earthwork that formed
the millpond is intact, and the raceway
may be traced through the trees. The mill
was almost below the viaduct that crosses
This shop had built the first locomotives for the Northern Railway, the
first steam line to opearte in and out of Toronto. They built the steam
engine and boiler for the mill at York Mills. After a strenuous journey
up the mud road, that was then Yonge Street, the engine was installed
and the former mill pond turned into a potato patch. This was one of the
earliest applications of steam power to industry in Canada.
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO 21
But time inarched on, and as the years past there was less and less
wheat grown on the farms bordering Yonge Street to the north of the
mill. After almost a century of operation the property was sold and the mill
converted to a summer home for a well-known Toronto citizen.
The author took a picture of this mill in the summer of 1923. The
only reminder of its former greatness was the great square chimney that
arose on the north side.
One winter day, not long after the picture referred to was made,
the old mill was gutted by fire and in the passing years its brick walls
and the chimney have collapsed.
However, time has not dwelt so unkindly with the earthwork and the
mill race and the visitor has no difficulty in seeing how an old time
water mill worked.
The Beginning of Confederation
NORTH Toronto has some relics that played a part in the very com-
mencement of Canadian Confederation. These relics can be seen
on the south side of St. Clair Avenue, a short distance west of
Spadina Avenue. This is the story .
A few months after the close of the War of 1812-15 one of the finest
houses the Town of York had seen was erected at the southeast corner
of Queen and John Streets. Shortly after the completion of this house
it was purchased by Sir John Beverley Robinson and became known as
"Beverley House". It was the centre of fashion for the Town of York
and the infant City of Toronto.
Lord Durham, who was appointed Governor after the term of office
of Sir Francis Bond Head had expired, did not remain long In this
country. He returned to England, presented his famous report on the
rebellion of 1837, and then retired into private life.
He was followed in the governorship by Lord Sydenham; and that
gentleman took up his official residence in Beverley House.
The illustration of Beverley House shows two massive chimneys, one
at either end of the main structure. These were the outlets for gigantic
and elaborate fireplaces. The one on the west was in the great ballroom
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
located on the ground floor and the one on the east was in the state
Lord Sydenham had his desk, and the desks of his secretaries, near
the fireplace on the west as depicted on the righthand side of the
An Old House Moves North
Beverley House that stood for 100 years at the corner of Queen
and John Streets was demolished in 1915. A new house was
built by the owners on the south side of St. Clair Avenue, just
west of Spadina. Much of the old material was incorporated
in the new house, including the two great fireplaces. In 1840,
Lord Sydenham sat before the great fireplace on the west and
drew up the Act of Union, which was passed in 1841 and united
Upper and Lower Canada. This was the first step toward
Canadian Confederation. The St. Clair building is now used
as a school by the Ursuline nuns.
The year was 1840, the conditions of the country were unsettled
following the recent political turmoil. Lord Sydenham arrived at the
conclusion that much good might result if the English speaking people
of Upper Canada and the French speaking people of Lower Canada
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO 23
could be brought closer together. Out of these contemplations he drew
up the Act of Union which was passed in 1841 and made the two
provinces the "United Canadas". He drew up the Act while seated in
front of the massive fireplace.
In 1915 the Robinson family sold the property to the governing board
of the Methodist Church. The old building that had stood for a hundred
years was demolished to make room for the new Methodist Book Room
(now the United Church headquarters).
But this demolition of the old building was no ordinary wrecking
job. The Robinson family had decided, in as far as was possible, to
reconstruct Beverley House on its new location on St. Clair Avenue.
The original front door, much of the interior woodwork and the two
massive fireplaces were carefully removed and incorporated into the
new building. The new Beverley House was larger than the original
structure. The design was similar and as much as possible of the
original materials were used after the architects had certified to its
The Robinson family have turned the St. Clair Avenue building over
to the Ursuline Nuns for educational purposes. As the pupils look upon
that big fireplace, it would be interesting to learn if any of them realize
that they are standing at the birthplace of Canadian Confederation.
Some of the early pioneers of North Toronto erected their buildings
with sun baked blocks of clay. One of the last of these buildings was
demolished on the east side of Yonge Street, just north of Sherwood
Avenue, in 1932. The one story building had stood on the site for more
than a hundred years.
It will be a surprise to many readers to learn that mining was once
an active industry in North Toronto. A century ago there were deposits
of pottery clay on Eglinton Avenue where that roadway dips down to
Don Valley. From these pits, which became quite deep, the Davisville
Pottery works received its clay. The walls of these pits have since collapsed
and the bridle path that leads down to the Don goes right through where the
clay was mined a century ago.
24 TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
The Schools of North Toronto
THE first school to be erected in what is now North Toronto was
located on the site now used by the Consumers Gas Company as a
show room at St. Clements and Yonge. It was a log structure and
was opened in the year 1842. The one room was divided partially in
two by a low partition which did not reach to the front of the room.
This partition, however, did serve as a means of keeping the girls and
boys apart but allowed the teacher to keep a sharp eye on both classes.
There was a further division of the pupils in each of these two main
sections. Pupils of different ages were divided into "classes' in the two
One teacher was employed and it is evident that in the very early days
this teacher was a man. His salary was at the rate of fifteen dollars a
month. This school is referred to in the report on the Indian remains,
made by David Boyle, 1886-7. He states that the school teacher, at that
period, was a Miss Marshall and that she had been very active in
gathering and collecting specimens of the remains of the great Indian
village that was located to the rear of this school. It is too bad that her
collection was not given proper care. It, like many other collecitons of
these Indian relics, have vanished. There was a great collection of speci-
mens that were exhibited in the hallway of Castlefield for many years.
In the years that have passed this great collection has been broken up
The log school was replaced by a brick structure that was erected
in the late 1880's of the last century. This brick school is still standing,
at the time of writing. It is now the Orange Hall that is located immediately
in the rear of the Capitol Theatre. This building was also the birthplace
of many of the great churches which now adorn North Toronto. It ceased
to be a public school shortly after the public school building was erected
on Davisville Avenue, just to the east of Yonge Street. The Davisville
school was the first proper school building that North Toronto had seen.
Pupils came to it from as far north as Lawrence Avenue. Old photographs
of this structure show that the exterior has been little changed in the
past sixty years. The interior has been modernized, in as far as it is
possible, to keep pace with the growing trends of education.
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO 25
The next school in the north end was the Deer Park School and as the
present century got under way some of the schools in the vicinity of
Egllnton Avenue were erected. The first High School was the present
North Toronto Collegiate Institute but the present structure is the outcome
of a very small commencement in one or two rooms. The Northern
Vocational School was the next centre for advanced education and it was
followed by the Lawrence Park, Collegiate. This last named structure
has seen several additions made to it since it was opened and at the
present time very extensive additions are contemplated for this centre of
Within recent months the section near St. Clair and Bathurst has
seen great schools arise. These are under the direction of the Roman
The schools in Bedford Park and Leaside came as a direct result of
the growing population. They were built at a time when school design
was more or less standardized and are in strange contrast to the great
school that has been erected near thq corner of Wilson Avenue and
Avenue Road. This is the Amour Heights Memorial School and is one
of the most modern educational structures to be seen north of Bloor Street.
The large house on Sheldrake Blvd., which is now the Preventorium,
was, some fifty years ago, the home of Miss Booth. She followed her
famous father as the head of the Salvation Army.
Many persons now residing in North Toronto are unaware that in the
year 1912 the late mayor, H. C. Hocken, was approached by a group
of North Toronto citizens, asking his interest in a proposed subway that
was to give rapid transit to Toronto, on a single fare. This scheme
reached the planning stage.
The large house on Blythewood Avenue, directly behind the Hyland
Motors faced Yonge Street for many years. A new foundation was
constructed on Blythewood and the house was moved back. There were
also many houses moved to new foundations when Duplex Avenue was
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
William Lyon Mackenzie
WILLIAM LYON MACKENZIE
played a very important part in
the history of North Toronto.
To properly set forth this story
it is necessary to consider his
place in the story of Toronto
generally. His name is closely
connected with the rebellion of
December, 1837; and he has to
some extent gone down upon
the pages of history as "the
little rebel". It is not the in-
tention of the author, at this
time, to delve into the political
issues of long gone years. I
think it is safe to suppose that
during the years that have pass-
ed since he was so active on the
scene of present day North To-
ronto that his admirers have
grown in number while his de-
tractors have diminished. Recent
years have seen a monument
erected to his memory on the lawn to the west side of the Parliament
Buildings, in Toronto. His first printing shop, at Queenston, has been
restored by the orders of the Ontario Government and his last home, on
Bond Street, in Toronto, has been turned into a civic shrine. He must
have left a lasting imprint on his generation. His ideals were of a high
order but his methods may have been at fault. There can be little doubt,
however, that from his faulty methods great and beneficial fruits ripened.
He was born in the small settlement of Springfield, not far from the
city of Dundee, in Scotland, on March 12th, 1795. As he grew into boyhood
he was sent to the local parish school and about the age of fifteen years
he was given a clerk's post in a Dundee shop at a very meagre stipend.
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO 27
Fifteen years of age would bring the story to the year 1810. Unknown
to the young clerk, at that time, there was a British general, by the name
of Sir Isaac Brock, in the far away land of Upper Canada, who was telling
his fellow citizens to get ready for an impending war. The war came in
the summer of the year 1812 and continued until the end of the year 1814.
During those two years the British newspapers carried some small accounts
of the events that were taking place in Canada. It is true that the
struggle with Napoleon filled most of the news. But the struggle that was
taking place in Upper and Lower Canada did not go unrecorded in the
These accounts of events in the far away land of Upper Canada aroused
the interest of the young clerk and he commenced to carefully hoard his
meagre earnings toward the cost of journeying there. In the year 1819,
he had gathered sufficient funds to pay for a passage from Glasgow and
arrived in the town of York, Upper Canada, in the spring of 1820. There
is very little record of what he did in the little settlement that was to
grow into the city of Toronto during his first two years here. Within
two years he had gathered sufficient resources to enable him to go into
partnership with a Mr. Leslie. On the north side of King Street, two
doors west of Frederick Street, in a brand new building, one of the first
brick buildings to be erected at York, they opened a combined drug and
book store. Mr. Leslie and his sons looked after the drug interests and
William Lyon Mackenzie ran the book store end of the venture. This
was the first drug store in Toronto and one of the very early ones of
Canada. The reader is aware of the trend of some modern drug stores to
offer for sale. Items that do not appear, at first hand, to be directly
connected with the drug trade. This is by no means a modern innovation.
In a printed poster, announcing the opening of this combined drug and
book store venture; the fact is proudly displayed that the firm dealt in
books, stationery, drugs, hardware, cutlery, jewellery, toys, carpenters' tools,
nails, groceries, confectionery, dye stuffs, paint and other items. It is
quite evident, therefore, that the "department store atmosphere" that
overhangs so many modern drug stores is another one of the "inventions"
that must be recorded to the credit of William Lyon Mackenzie.
This venture prospered but it must not be supposed that there was
much resemblance to this pioneer drug store and a modern establishment.
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
The building was of two and a half storeys but there was no modern shop
front to the store. A flight of steps led up to the central doorway and two
ordinary, shuttered, windows were displays on either side of the front
door. Across the front of the building a sign had been painted. It read:
Leslie & Sons & Mackenzie.
In December of 1822, the firm opened a branch store in Dundas and
Mr. Mackenzie went there to conduct the business. The following year,
1823, the Leslies bought out the interests of Mr. Mackenzie for the sum
of £625. With this capital he moved to Queenston and opened a general
store. Again good luck was with him for within a few months he received
an offer to sell this business at a figure which represented a clear profit.
Erected in 1830, it stood on the site now used by the North
Toronto Post Office. It was burned to the ground by government
troops on December 7, 1837.
Mackenzie accepted the offer and then decided to visualize an idea that
had been taking shape since his first book store venture in the town of
York. In a nearby stone building he set up a printing press and commenced
to engage, not only in general job printing, but in editing and publishing
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
a paper that was destined to
spread his fame, in the years
the first editions of the Colonial Advocate;
stir up all the political animosity and to
that were to follow.
Some years ago this original stone building, at Queenston, became
badly delapidated. A little granite shaft had been planted in the adjoining
Mackenzie's Home During the Stormy Days of 1837
When Mackenzie became the first Mayor of Toronto in 1834,
He bought himself a home on the west side of York Street,
between Queen and Richmond Streets. This was a new
and fashionable district that was then opening up. He lived
here during the stormy days of 1837.
soil and the face of the shaft told the visitor that this ruin was the first
printing plant of William Lyon Mackenzie. In recent years the Queen
Victoria Niagara Falls Park Commission have restored the building, and
it is kept open during the summer season as a tourist attraction. As far
as has been possible the interior has been restored to resemble an ancient
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
printing shop. However, the iron press that is displayed there is not the
press that was used by Mackenzie. Sometime during the closing years of
the last century the original press used by William Lyon Mackenzie fell
into the hands of the late John Ross Robertson and tvas displayed for some
time in one of the Melinda Street windows of the Telegram. Later, Mr.
Robertson presented it to the Normal School Museum, in Toronto, and it
was on display there until the building was taken over, early in the Second
World War, for the training of technical air force men. Many years ago
Mackenzie's First Printing Shop in Toronto
When Mackenzie moved his printing shop from Queenston
to York in 1825, he set up home and shop in this log struc-
ture on the north-west corner of Front and Frederick
Streets, It was this place that was attacked by the mob
who threw his type into the bay.
the author photographed this old press. It was made of wood for the
most part. Iti was probably built about the year 1800 and Mackenzie
secured it from the United States in 1824, when he opened his shop at
Queenston. The iron press now displayed at Queenston, and reputed to be
the press of Wm. Lyon Mackenzie was manufactured about the year 1850.
There is a duplicate of it on display in the hallway of the Graphic Arts
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO 31
section of the Ryerson Institute of Technology, in Toronto, at the present
time. The original press that was in the Normal School Museum was
supposed to have been handed over to the Royal Ontario Museum. The
author has been unable to trace its location from that source.
Mr. Mackenzie soon discovered that Queenston was not an advantagious
point for the publication of a newspaper. The mail that was carried by
stage coach and ship, from Queenston, was very tardy in reaching other
portions of Upper Canada. After a few months of publication at Queenston;
he packed his press, type and personal belongings on board ship and
sailed for the town of York. At the north west corner of F'rederick and
I, Front Streets he found a one storey dwelling house that was empty at the
time. This became his combined dwelling and printing shop and it had two
great advantages over the Queenston site. The mail service, into and out
of the town of York, was superior to the service offered from Queenston;
and he was right on the tail of the "Family Compact" that he commenced
to loathe. The seat of government was right in the town of York and
he was able to print "news" in his paper at a much earlier date than
waiting for second hand reports to reach him at Queenston. By the early
weeks of 1825 his little printing plant at York was completed and he con-
tinued the publication of the Colonial Advocate which had been disrupted
by reason of the move from Queenston. The fame of the paper grew apace.
It spread up through what is now North Toronto and York County. It
went east and it went west and over into the Niagara peninsula.
Mackenzie's editorials became bolder and bolder and, as they increased
in directness, the ire of the Family Compact rose. On the evening of
June 8th, 1826, while Mackenzie was out of town, a crowd of young
bloods broke into his home and printing shop. They upset the press and
dumped his type into piles which were carried across Front Street and
thrown into the bay. At that time there was no Esplanade. Front Street
was exactly what its name implied. It was the front street. The Esplanade
was not built until the time of the Civil War in the United States. It
was built to the design of Sandford Fleming, the man who had designed
Canada's first postage stamp in 1851, as a means of giving the growing
steam railway systems a proper entrance and exit into the growing city.
A small portion of the dumped type was recovered after the fury of the
mob had spent itself. The rest lies under several feet of mud that was
thrown on top of it when the Esplanade was built.
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
THE GATEWAY T<
This famous hostelry stood on the east side of Yonge Street a h
for the stage coaches that connected with the numerous muDip;
commenced in 1807 and numerous additions were made during
a great ball room and this room was the political headquarte
Compact candidate on numerous elections preceding the arnd
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
RED LION HOTEL
Iv yards to the north of Bloor Street. It was the starting point
jDipalities up Yonge Street. Construction on this building was
3 following thirteen years. The upper central portion contained
ei of William Lyon Mackenzie when he defeated the Family
mil revolt at Montgomery's Tavern. Building demolished in 1888.
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
Unknown to the mob that attacked his printing plant; there were
several of Mackenzie's friends who witnessed the unlawful attack. They
quietly made note of who was present and what certain parties did during
the fracas. A few weeks later Mackenzie won a court action against
certain parties and was awarded damages to the extent of £700. This
money was used to refurnish the plant and to extend the circulation of
$10 • Mk:
^o«m1 SiUii, "U^tt) (comnAol, ^.uJU 21, K^X ^
to! J^vrve-i MiyinKy ^-rVUt^, ^^^.tJ^ dii: oxAiW, oil lIU (iiiUy
Ezaminal by flu Comflrollrr.
ttairman pre. tern. Ex, Cnm.
Paper Money of Long Ago
This note is dated December 27, 1837, and was made out at
Navy Island. This was almost three weeks after the battle
on north Yonge Street. It suggests that many of Mackenzie's
backers in Toronto had not lost faith in the rebellion idea.
the paper. By the year 1828 the fame of Mackenzie and what he w^as fighting
for had reacted to such an extent, with much of the populace, that
Mackenzie was asked to stand for election to the legisalture as one of the
members for York County. It is at this point in the story where he enters
North Toronto. His political headquarters was the Red Lion Hotel. In
an earlier portion of this booklet, in the section that describes a trip up
Yonge Street a century ago, mention has been made of this famous building.
It stood on the east side of Yonge Street, just north of Bloor Street. The
exact site is now used by Woolworth's and the row of modern stores that
extends up to Britnell's book shop.
In the years 1797 and 1798 the Crown made large grants of land in
the vicinity of what is now Bloor and Yonge and St. Clair and Yonge. In
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO 35
1798 Daniel Tiers was granted two hundred acres tliat spread along Avhat is
now Bloor Street East and up along the east side of Yonge Street. In the
year 1807 he erected the central portion of the Red Lion Hotel and during
the years that followed he made additions to the south and the north of the
original central structure. Business, at first, could not have been very
brisk. In 1808, one year after he had put up the first portion of the Red
Lion, he offered the hotel and the two hundred acres of land for sale.
The price asked for the land and building was four hundred dollars. He
almost got a "sucker" down in the town of York to buy it. Friends of the
would be purchaser warned him of the great risk he was taking in investing
in this land aw^ay out that might never amount to anything and the deal
fell through. Tiers kept his land and the hotel and the would be purchaser
kept his money. A short time prior to the outbreak of the War of 1812
the government placed a toll gate outside the Red Lion and it, by reason of
this, became the starting point for the stage coaches that operated up
and down Yonge Street.
When it became known to the Family Compact that Mackenzie was
standing for election in York County, to the Upper Canada legislature, they
girded their loins and decided to try and prevent his election. They did
not like his ideas on reform. This election took place in the year 1828.
The Red Lion Hotel was the polling place and when the votes were counted
it was found that Mackenzie had been elected by a very large majority.
With this public backing he stepped up the tempo of his editorials
in his newspaper. During 1831 his editorials had become so pointed that
the Compact members of the legislature declared that he had committed
a libel against the house and ordered the Sergeant to expell him from the
legislative meetings and declared his seat open.
A second election was carried out and Mackenzie stood for election
again to the vacant seat. An account of this election, written at the time,
states that upwards of five thousand people milled about the Red Lion Hotel
on that eventful day. The Family Compact were somewhat abashed to
learn that the followers of Mackenzie, in York County, had swept him to
a second victory. When he took his seat in the legislature, following this
second victory, he was ordered to be expelled again. This election pro-
cedure followed again and again and during the next two years he was
expelled and re-elected a total of five times. In each of these elections the
central polling place was the famous Red Lion and at this passage of
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
time it seems strange that the Compact could not realize that a large
section of the voters were supporters of the reform programme. The
voter at that time were not "riff raff", as has so often been charged, by
those who would defend the Compact. The voters were solid citizens, all
Mackenzie had married in 1822, shortly after the business venture
of the drug and book store had indicated that it was to develop into a
profitable investment. His growing printing business had left him cramped,
together with his increasing family, in the one storey log structure at
Front and Frederick Streets. During all the election excitement he had
found time to remove to larger quarters and he had opened a combined
printing business and book store at 173 King Street (east) near the present
St. Lawrence Market. At first he
lived above the book store here but
by 1833 the expanding business
forced him out. A new and some-
what fashionable district was open-
ing up in the town of York in those
days; and Mackenzie took over a
modest brick house on the west side
of York Street, between Richmond
and Queen Streets.
Early in the year 1834, the
legislative passed a bill that would
enable the citizens of the town of
York to incorporate under a city
charter. On the 6th day of March,
1834, the Town of York became the
City of Toronto. In the elections
that had preceded the incorporation
William Lyon Mackenzie had been
elected an alderman. There were two types of civic representatives.
There were aldermen and councilmen. Carefully preserved in the vaults
of the present day City Clerk in the City Hall, are the minutes of
that first civic council. On page one it is recorded that Franklin
Jackes (a grandfather of the author) stood up and moved that William
Lyon Mackenzie be elected by the Council at Mayor. This motion
The First Coat of Arms
In 18 3 4 Mackenzie ordered
wood blocks to be made from
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO 37
was seconded and carried. That is how Toronto got its first Mayor. The
next step was to raise some cash. There was in Toronto of that day a
stone bank building, which still stands at the time of writing, on the north
east corner of Frederick and Duke Streets. In 1834, it was the head office
of the Bank of Upper Canada. The council approached this bank with the
object of securing a loan. Again the Family Compact showed its hand and
advised the bank to have nothing to do with the brand new city so long as
it was under the direction of Mackenzie, as mayor.
At that time, in Toronto, there was another smaller bank known as
the Farmers' Joint Stock Bank. The council approached this bank and
was informed they could have the money if each individual member of
the Council would sign a note to guarantee its repayment. This was done
and the bank advanced a loan to the city of ten thousand Spanish dollars.
In 1834, the Town Hall of York and the first City Hall of Toronto was
a small frame structure that stood on the south side of King Street where
the St. Lawrence Market stands today. The lower portion of the building
was given over to market space and butchers' stalls and the upper floor
contained the hall and the business offices. Market Street ran southward
from King to the immediate west of the first Town Hall. On the west
side of Market Street, about the year 1833, a man by the name of John
Sleigh built a three and half storey brick hotel and opened for business
under the name of "John Sleigh's Hotel."
One warm afternoon, in the spring of 1834, Mackenzie stepped into
this hotel to refresh himself before starting the long walk home to northern
York Street. He was surprised to see a gathering of men about a stooped
figure on the floor of the bar room. This man had a piece of chalk in his
hand and was drawing various objects as asked for by the crowd. The
man had talent and Mackenzie called him to one side and asked him if
he would prepare a design for a civic coat of arms for the new City of
Toronto. A piece of sheet metal and some paints and brushes were secured
for the wandering artist and he commenced to work. The design was
painted on the metal sheet and from it Mackenzie had a wood block made.
He also commissioned the artist to paint the picture of the crest on the
back of the chair which he used in the council chamber. This chair and
crest has been preserved and may be seen today in the Mackenzie Museum
on Bond Street.
38 TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
In 1834, John Sleigh changed the name of his hotel to the City Arms
Hotel. The original sheet metal plate, upon which the wandering artist
had painted the civic arms, hung for many years on the wall of the bar
room. At the time of writing, 1951, this structure was standing and was
used as a wholesale fruit warehouse. The north aspect displays an ancient
gateway that formerly led to the coach yards. This addition to the hotel
was added later and over the doorway is displayed the wording "John
Sleigh, 1840". Sometime in the 1860's, Sleigh gave up the management of
this hotel and moved with his daughter to Yorkville. Many years ago I
made enquiries concerning the metal plate that contained the origin of
Toronto's civic crest and was informed that it had been taken to Yorkville,
during the moving, and had been stored in the attic. After many years
it had been tossed out in the garbage.
During 1834, Mackenzie had devoted his time to civic matters and the
publishing of his newspaper. In 1835 the voters of York County asked him
to stand once more for election to the legislature and once again, at a
polling held in the Red Lion, he was declared the victor. It was during
the early part of the year 1837 that the idea of a resort to arms, as a
means of carrying out his reform programme, first crystalized in his mind.
Discussions with several of his supporters convinced him that the idea
The suggestion has been made that it was merely the "riff-raff" of
the Upper Canada population that were behind Mackenzie in his desperate
bid for responsible government.. In Toronto one of his main backers was
John Doel, who lived in a large frame house on the northwet corner of
Adelaide and Bay Streets. Doel was a brewer, in the rear of his house
he had erected his extensive brewing vats. Under these vats, during
the dark autumn evenings of 1837, several meetings were held where the
aspects of the forthcoming armed rising were discussed and planned.
Up Yonge Street, just where the Newmarket Road turns to the right,
stood the dwelling and blacksmith shop of Samuel Lount. He had been
there for many years and was a highly respected member of the com-
munity Down toward the village of Pickering there was a prosperous
farmer by the name of Peter Matthews. He had been a captain in the
armies of General Brock, during the War of 1812. There was James
Hervey Price, who lived at Castlefield, in Eglinton, and who was the City
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
in? ^ vn "
t.2V"^ W' «...
I r^ r-i t lis « " 4: '^ f i ^j
Clerk of Toronto. There was
Col Gibson and Franklin
Jackes who lived on the west
side of Yonge Street, just a
little bit to the south of the
present Glengrove Avenue.
There were many more: but
one more name must be re-
called. That is John Mont-
gomery, owner of the famous
Montgomery's Tavern that
stood on the site now used
by the North Toronto Post
Office. At the time of the
rebellion, Montgomery did not
operate the tavern. He had
leased it to a man named
Llngfoot; and was living in
retirement on the north side
of what is now Montgomery
Avenue. The best answer to
the riff-raff suggestions come
from a statement that was
made by Mackenzie himself,
in writing, after he had en-
tered the United States, fol-
lowing his flight from the
battle on Yonge Street. He
was given a horse and saddle
by one of the farm hands at
Castlefield and between his
departure from Castlefield to
his crossing of the Niagara
River he was seen and aided by more than two thousand persons. Despite
the fact that there was a standing reward for his capture of £1,000 no one
betrayed him or gave the Compact authorities a hint of his whereabouts
during that hectic journey from North Toronto to Niagara. That sounds like
The City Arms Hotel
This structure, west side of Market Street,
across from the first City Hall, is the rep-
uted place where an old soldier drew the
first city arms for Mackenzie. The original
was painted on a thin sheet of metal and
hung for many years over the bar of this
40 TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
a lot of real folks who were either definitely with him or interested in his
fight for responsible government.
At this late date it is not possible to ascertain with any degree of
accuracy the number of men who gathered at Montgomery's Tavern
during the first week of December, 1837. I have examined all the various
accounts of this gathering that I have seen; and have come to the con-
clusion that at no time the force exceeded eight hundred men. I am of the
opinion that not more than two hundred men marched down Yonge Street
to meet the militia coming up from the city under the command of Col.
MacNab. I do not think that there were more than two hundred muskets
available for the entire assembly. I think that a force of about four hundred
men remained behind at the tavern and that they were armed only with
axes and pikes.
It is not generally known that William Lyon Mackenzie printed his own
money to finance the uprising. This was in the form of promissary notes
in the denomination of ten Spanish dollars each. These were made out
in the name of the Provisional Government of Upper Canada and were
exchanged for hard cash. These notes are now very rare. Following the
failure of the affair at Montgomery's, those that had. them destroyed them
as soon as they reached home, so that they could not be used as evidence
against them if they fell into the hands of government searchers. The
exact amount of money that was raised by means of these notes is not now
known. The lists showing to whom payment was due were destroyed by
fire on the Sunday morning following the clash of arms. I have seen one
or two specimens numbered in the eight hundreds and that would indicate
that the war fund was something between eight and ten thousand Spanish
dollars or a total of about £12,000.
What happened after the flight of Mackenzie? The government troops
sought to take as many prisoners as possible and within the days that
followed the gaol at King and Toronto Streets was packed with prisoners.
Montgomery's Tavern was put to the torch. Col. Gibson's home w-as burned
and there was much burning and pillage throughout York County. The
home of Mackenzie, on York Street Avas searched and searched again. On
the Sunday morning following the armed clash; the mother-in-law of
Mackenzie appealed to the authorities for a respite of these searchings
during the hours of Divine service. This was granted and she used the
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
precious time to destroy the lists of Mackenzie's supporters. By this act
of hravery she removed the wrath of Francis Bond Head from hundreds
of homes that might otherwise have felt his fury.
A full report of the uprising was forwarded to the Colonial Office In
England. It was sent by the government and it may have been
biased. In the few years that
had preceeded the uprising
Mackenzie had presented the
British government with
several addresses setting
forth his views of the state
of affairs in Upper Canada.
In some manner the Compact
always managed to get in a
counter address. When news
of the armed uprising reached
London the British govern-
ment decided that the time
had come to make an impar-
tial investigation of the mat-
ter. They appointed John
George Lambton, the Earl of
Durham, to proceed to Upper
Canada as Governor in place
of Sir Francis Bond Head.
He arrived in Canada during
the early summer of 1838.
He was in Toronto one day
only, July 17th, 1838. He was
not in the country very long
and without being recalled
or resigning returned to Eng-
land and presented the now
famous Durham Report to the
British government. He had
many private conferences
with British cabinet ministers
Mackenzie's Last Home In Toronto
In 1849, twelve years after the Rebellion,
Queen Victoria signed a bill which granted
a full pardon to all who had taken part in
the Rebellion. Mackenzie returned to
Toronto and his friends and admirers
bought him this house on the west side of
Bond Street, just south of what is now
Dundas Street. While he lived here, his
friends in Parliament forced through a bill
granting him full back pay for the many
times he had been elected to Parliament
during the stormy days preceding 1837.
42 TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
and was also called before Queen Victoria to state what he had seen.
The result of his visit and report was the Act of Union of 1841, which
united the colonies of Upper and Lower Canada into the United Canadas.
There were many other changes which were no tto the liking' of the
Family Compact and in 1849 an Amnesty Bill was passed which restored
all rights of citizenship to those who had taken up arms in 1837. It
was under the protection of this Bill that William Lyon Mackenzie
returned to Toronto and his friends bought him a home on Bond
Street. His friends also succeeded, despite the violent opposition of
the remnants of the Compact, to have him voted by the legislature the monies
due him for his election to the legislature during the stormy days of the five
elections that he won in York County. In 1851, two years after his return
to Toronto he stood for election as member for Haldimand County and
Shortly after his return to Toronto he did what could be done to pay
some last and proper respects to the bodies of Lount and Matthews who
had been executed in Toronto, in April of 1838. After the execution their
bodies had been placed in the Potters Field. The exact site of their burial
was under the site of the Yorkville Avenue Fire Station. One dark night
in 1849 Mackenzie and some of his friends removed the bodies of the two
patriots to the Necropolis Cemetery and had a decent head stone erected
to mark the site. Mackenzie died at his home on Bond Street, August
Samuel Lount was the eldest son of the late Gabriel Lount, an English-
man, who emigrated to Pennsylvania in the middle of the Eighteenth
century, and of Philadelphia Hughes, his wife, a Quakeress. He emigrated
to Upper Canada and settled near Newmarket in 1811. In 1834 he repre-
sented the County of Simcoe in the Upper Canada Legislature and served
for two years. In 1836 he became a candidate again and was defeated by
corrupt practices used by his political opponents. A petition of 8,000 people
asked for a reprieve which was refused.
Peter Matthews was the son of Peter Matthews, Sr., a United Empire
Loyalist who fought on the British side in the Revolutionary War, and at
its close settled with his wife and family in the townsite of Pickering in
the (then) County of York. Peter Matthews, the son, belonged to Brock's
volunteers during the war of 1812 to 1815 and fought in various battles in
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
Upper Canada of that war. He was known and respected as an honest and
John Montgomery was one of a group sent to Fort Henry, at Kingston,
to await transportation. They dug under the walls of the prison fort and
escaped to the United States.
A Great Pioneer of North Toronto
James Hervey Price was one of the leading pioneers of North Toronto.
He came to the Town of York just ten years after the close of the War of
1812-15. When he arrived, the town was just rebuilding after the devasta-
tion resulting from two enemy attacks during that conflict. He opened
one of the first law offices in what
is now Toronto. He made numerous
journeys into the country surrounding
York and came to the conclusion,
even at that early date, that the ulti-
mate growth would be toward the
north. He secured two large tracts
of land: one of these included what
is now the north side of Eglinton
Avenue, between Yonge Street and
Avenue Road; the other was a large
tract of land that ran through from
Yonge Street to Bathurst Street, It
was on this lot that he built Castle-
field in 1830. He was appointed City
Clerk when Toronto was incorpor-
porated in March, 1834. He loaned
large sums of money to William Lyon
Mackenzie, and as a consequence was
obliged to sell Castlefield to Franklin
Jackes in 1842. Price Street, running
east from Yonge just below the C.P.R.
crossing, is named after him.
His coachman was John Montgomery, and Mr. Price gave him a plot of
ground on Yonge Street, upon which John Montgomery erected the famous
James Hervey Price
44 TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
IN a growing community, transportation plays a very important part. In
an earlier portion of this book attention has been drawn to the stage
coach that ran up Yonge Street from the Red Lion Hotel to Richmond
Hill. In the year 1884, the Metropolitan Railway Company commenced to
make use of the franchise that had been granted to it. Tracks were laid
"between the steam lines of the Canadian Pacific Railway, where they cross
Yonge Street a little to the south of Summerhill Avenue, to the Eglinton
Town Hall at the corner of Yonge Street and Montgomery Avenue. Horse-
drawn cars were operated on this track by the Metropolitan Railway
Company for seven years. In the year 1891 the tracks were electrified and
extended to Glengrove Avenue. This was the first electrified railway in
the vicinity of Toronto, and as far as my researches have indicated, the first
electric railway to be operated in Canada. The first electric cars did not
make an appearance on the tracks of the old Toronto Street Railway
Company until the year 1893. The first of their lines to be electrified was
the Church Street line.
During the seven years in which the Metropolitan was running its horse-
drawn cars up and down north Yonge Street, there was another ambitious
transportation scheme in the making. This was the Toronto Steam Belt
Line Railway that had been granted a charter In the year 1889. As there
are some remnants of this old line still visible in North Toronto, the story
of this great undertaking will be outlined here.
The directors and promoters of the line prepared some very dazzling
and attractive posters and other literature to induce the working man to
turn his back on his home in Toronto, amid the dirt and grime of the city,
and take up his residence in the open country where fresh air abounded
and taxes were almost as nothing, and where the home-grown vegetables
and hen fruit would cut his living costs to a point where he could put
almost his entire wages in the savings bank. In addition to all these bene-
fits the directors of the Steam Belt Line Railway offered to transport him
quickly and cheaply from his abode in the pleasant countryside to his place
of employment in the city. The original plans called for a line of track
that would run east and west from the old Union Station on Front Street
and encircle the city by way of the Humber and Don Valleys and join
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
these two valleys by a line that rambled across the north end, reaching as
far as Eglinton Avenue at one point.
When the promoters of the line received their charter they went out in
the city to sell stock in the enterprise, and quite a bit of stock was sold and
The Steam Belt Line Railway
The stations were: (1) Union Station; (2) Church Street;
(3) Berkeley Street; (4) Don; (5) Winchester Street; (6) Rose-
dale; (7) Moore Park; (8) Merton Street; (9) Upper Canada
College; (10) Eglinton; (11) Davenport; (12) Spadina Avenue;
(13) Swansea; (14) St. Clair.
paid for. But history was repeating itself in a somewhat reverse manner.
Many readers of this story will recall the effort that was made a few years
46 TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
ago to raise money for a North Toronto Community Centre, and how it
appeared that some of its money was used up in "promotional expenses",
and when the remaining cash was counted there was not enough left to build
the hall. The promoters of the old Steam Belt Line Railway appear to have
been able to present some rather healthy bills for "promotional expenses",
and when the time came to build the line there was not enough money left.
But in their case a good angel stepped into the picture. The Grand Trunk
Railway offered to take over all the assets of the Toronto Steam Belt Line
Railway, build and complete the line and operate it. The original stock in
the Steam Belt Line Railway was exchanged for Grand Trunk Railway paper
which did not reimburse the original investors, and considerable money was
lost in the transaction.
However, the Grand Trunk did build and complete the line. The only
important changes made in the original plans were that instead of one loop
they built two. One loop was known as the western or Humber loop, and
the other was known as the eastern or Don Valley loop. A spur line
joined them together some distance to the north of St. Clair Avenue and it
was possible for trains to operate from one loop to the other.
As soon as it became known that the Grand Trunk Railway had taken
over the prospect there was a great activity in real estate at various points
along the line. What is now known as Moore Park was laid out in lots,
and much of what is now Forest Hill Village was surveyed and staked out.
The important suburb of Swansea owes it beginning to this real estate fever
that swept across the confines of suburban Toronto.
The line commenced business in the summer of the year 1892 under the
full control of the Grand Trunk Railway. The eastern loop employed the
main line of the Grand Trunk between the Union Station and the Don. The
line then ran northward beside the Don to Winchester Street. It then
struck off to the north-west, using a natural ravine for most of the right of
way. It came through Mount Pleasant Cemetery and continued westward
along the south side of Merton Street and was carried across Yonge Street
on a bridge. The original Yonge Street bridge, like all other bridges on the
old Belt Line Railway, was made of timbers. This has been replaced by the
iron bridge that now crosses Yonge Street. From Yonge Street the line
continued in a northwesterly direction until it ran under the Fourth Con-
cession line (Eglinton Avenue), in the vicinity of what is now Spadina Road.
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
The line then extended westward for some distance and curved southward
to join into the main line of the old Great Northern Railway at Davenport
Station. From there the Belt Line continued to the Union Station.
The Western loop left the Union Station on the tracks of the Toronto
Hamilton and Buffalo Railway as far as what is now Swansea. New tracks
were laid northward through a ravine that ran to the east of the Humber
Yonge and Castlefield in 1910
The Metropolitan car is coming north on the mud road. The
structure on the right is the first movie in North Toronto.
It was the York-Eglinton, and had a mud floor and kitchen
chairs. The admission was five cents. It is now the Capitol
River. This western loop curved to the east some distance above the Third
Concession line (St. Clair Avenue), and came over to join the main northern
line of the Grand Trunk, running into Parkdale and the Union Station. There
was a spur line that connected the two loops together north of St. Clair
48 TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
The Toronto Belt Line Steam Railway continued to operate until the
year 1894. From a revenue standpoint it was a failure. The exodus that
had been planned did not materialize and many real estate speculators w^ere
trying frantically to unload the lots that had been bought or optioned.
On the eastern loop there were numerous stations at which the working
man could board the trains. There were stations at Church Street, Berkeley
Street, the Don, Winchester Street, Rosedale, Moore Park, Yonge Street,
Upper Canada College, Eglinton, Davenport, Parkdale, and Spadina Avenue.
The Yonge Street station stood on the site now used by the Milnes Coal
Company, and the Moore Park station stood beside the trackless right of
way just to the south of Moore Avenue. It was not demolished until 1945
and had been used for dwelling purposes for some time prior to its demo-
In the year 1921 a local engineering firm was given the task of making
a full report on the conditions of the right of way of the old Toronto Steam
Belt Line Railway. The last passenger trains to operate on this line tooted
their way from station to station in the late summer of 1894. Twenty-seven
years had elapsed between that date and the making of the engineering
report in 1921. Twenty-seven years of neglect can lay heavy havoc on an
undertaking of this nature. The report states that on the Humber loop
there were a few sections of the track then in place. The wooden bridges
had decayed to a point where they were unsafe. Some sections of the line
had reverted to the municipality in default of taxes, and in some places the
owners of adjoining property had extended their fences across the right of
way. The line from Davenport Station to Mount Pleasant Avenue was still
in operation and was used for the transport of coal, wood and other heavy
freight. The old wooden bridge crossing Yonge Street, at Merton Street,
had been replaced by a steel structure. Between Mount Pleasant Road and
Winchester Street the dilapidated condition of the line was a repeat of con-
ditions that had been found on the Humber loop. At the time of writing
(1951), the author found one of the massive timber bridges that once span-
ned this old steam line. This bridge crosses the right of way about one
hundred yards south of Moore Avenue. It has long since been condemned,
but an examination of its massive timbers give some representation of the
engineering skill expended on the line by the Grand Trunk Railway. When
the Grand Trunk was taken over by the Canadian goverment and formed
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO 49
one of the lines that now make up the Canadian National Railways; what
remained intact of the old Steam Belt Line became part and parcel of the Can-
adian National System. That is why they still operate the line, as a freight
spur, that crosses Yonge Street at Mount Pleasant Cemetery. In more
recent years a portion of the western loop right of way was used by the
Toronto and Guelph Electric Radial Railway to give entrance to West
Toronto. That line is now nothing but a right of way. Over the past few
years several suggestions have been made for the use of the old right of
way between Moore Avenue and Winchester Street for a motor highway.
It would certainly be a scenic route and might withdraw traffic from the
overcrowded streets that must be used at present in driving from North
Toronto to the eastern sections of the city.
The Beginning Of Leaside
LEASIDE and Forest Hill Village, although both separate municipalities
from a history standpoint, may be considered as part of the area
covered by this book.
Forest Hill Village had its birth in the great real estate boom that
developed as a result of the projection of the steam Belt Line Railway,
some sixty years ago. Moore Park is another section of North Toronto
which owes its start to the same transportation scheme.
With Leaside, the story is different. When the trains were running
around the Belt Line, what is now the splendid municipality of Leaside
was mostly farm land, and remained so for some years after the old
Belt Line became a memory and a set of rusty tracks.
There were three land marks of early Leaside. One of these was
a roadhouse on Bayview Avenue. This was a white stucco structure that
stood on the west side of the road and which vanished about 1926.
Where Bayview Avenue runs north from Rosedale, and just across
from the new school which has been erected, there stands an ancient
house of red brick. This house is a duplicate of a similar house that
stood on the north west corner of St. Clair Avenue and Yonge Street.
Both houses were built from the same set of plans.
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
What may be considered to be the actual beginning of Leaside is the
old Jones homestead on Bayview Avenue, The farm, of which this ancient
building was the farm house, extended for many acres. The Jones house
was purchased and modernized by the Hon. Dr. Herbert Bruce.
The first factories of Leaside
commenced to arise on what is
now the north end of Laird
drive. One of the first
large factories to oper-
ate was that of the
Durant Motor Car Com-
pany. One of the pio-
neers of the district was
William MacLean, who
published the Toronto
world for many years.
For years he advocated
the erection of the great
bridge that crosses the
Don between Leaside
and the Danforth
Avenue. The battle
waged by the Toronto! World for the construction of this bridge was
bitterly opposed by some of the other Toronto papers. William MacLean
was cartooned and lampooned as the man with the "Big Eyes". Tmie has
disclosed the fact that this bridge was one of the best municipal invest-
ments made in the Toronto area in many years. It "made" Leaside and
during World War II its industrial potential grew apace.
Since the war many of the war time industries have been converted
to peace time channels. It must not be overlooked, however, that the
Dominion government keeps a small pilot plant operating in Leaside.
Thxs plant is ready to expand upon a moment's notice should international
conditions suddenly turn for the worse.
But let us hope that the crowds of citizens who enjoy shopping in
the splendid shops of Leaside may long enjoy seeing the district expand
without the necessity of great and sprawling plants again turning out
the equipment for war.
The old Jones homestead on Bayview
Avenue as it appeared a century ago. This
house was purchased and modernized by
the Hon. Dr. Herbert Bruce.
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO 51
North Toronto Churches
WHEN the War of 1812-15 came to a close there were many veterans
to whom an appreciative government gave land grants in many parts
of what is now North Toronto. Many of these veterans were from
Great Britain and some had been treated in a generous manner by the
Earl of Eglinton before they set sail across the stormy Atlantic. The
Earl, out of his private purse, had seen that his men were supplied with
many items that were not included in the regulation military kit. As
a token of esteem towards their patron, these new veteran land owners
decided to give the name of their benefactor to the district. From 1816 on-
ward it became known as Eglinton. In later years this name applied, not to
the entire district, but to a certain portion of North Toronto which now
bears that name.
In 1316 there was one church in this portion of Upper Canada. That
was the log structure that had been erected at the corner of Church and
King Streets in 1803, and has since grown into the stately St. James'
These new comers to the north gave much thought to church matters,
but there was one great difficulty.
In the very early legislation of Upper Canada, Governor Simcoe had
set aside a great many tracts of land that were meant to form the basis
for the financial support of a Protestant clergy. The words "Protestant
Clergy" are used in the bill, but by the year 1816 the Anglican Church
had exercised a monopoly on their administration. There were many of
these clergy reserves up and down Yonge Street. One of the last to be
disposed of was the lot where the Glebe Manor apartments now stand.
When the new veteran land owners suggested to the Anglican bishop,
in the town of York, that there was room for a church in this new district,
he did not wish to disturb these clergy reserves. He did, however, give
some aid and shortly after these veterans had commenced to clear their
ground a little frame church was erected at York Mills. It was given
the name of St. Johns'. For many years there were no churches between
this one and St. James' on King Street.
The frame church of St. John served its purpose for some sixteen years
when it was replaced by the present structure. This church is well
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
worth a Sunday afternoon visit. The old fittings are intact and there is
no structure in North Toronto which can compare with this as an example
of early North Toronto pioneering.
It is not to be supposed that all these new settlers had leanings toward
the Anglican Church. There were many missionaries of the Methodist
The Original Christ Church
It stood just where the Lawton loop of the T.T.C. is now located
just to the north of St. Clair Avenue. This church was put on
sleds and pulled over to form the beginning of Grace Church.
It was then taken down to Danforth Avenue and Main Street
vicinity where it is still in use.
faith that visited the district. In fair weather meetings were held outdoors
and when this was not possible the farm house with the largest kitchen
was used for services.
By the year 1830 the Methodist following in what is now North Toronto
had expanded to an extent where it was decided to erect a church. A
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
lot was secured on the east side of Yonge Street opposite what is now
Glengrove Avenue and a modest structure erected upon it.
A second Methodist Church soon arose in the town of Davisville. A
portion of this structure still stands although much of its original front
has been sheared off to permit the widening of Yonge Street.
North Toronto's First Methodist Church
Eglinton Methodist Church was erected in 1830 and
stood where the Hydro sub-station is located across
from Glengrove Avenue. In 1925 it became the
Eglinton United Church, and the new structure on
Sheldrake Boulevard was erected.
Then the Anglicans stepped into the church picture once again.
A short distance north of St. Clair Avenue, a winding road came down
and joined with Yonge Street, at this junction a frame church was erected
which was a landmark of North Toronto for many years. It was given the
name of Christ Church.
When the Toronto Transportation Commission were extending their
rails up Yonge Street in 1922, they decided that the site of this frame
church would make an ideal loop.
In the meantime the congregation of Christ Church had far outgrown
the original frame structure and work was progressing on the splendid
stone structure nearby.
The original frame Christ Church was not demolished. An Anglican
Church on Elm Street, in central Toronto had been sold. This was known
54 TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
as Grace Church and as many of the former congregation had moved
northward it was decided to use the purchase money for the erection of a
new and modern structure. They had secured a lot in Forest Hill village,
and they had the money to proceed. Time is required to build a stately
church; and to hold the congregation together and to make a definite start,
it was decided to make a bold "move". The old frame Christ Church was
lifted from its foundations and powerful sleds inserted under it. Many
horses were harnessed and at the first fall of snow the procession started
down Yonge Street and along St. Clair Avenue. This original Christ Church,
moved to the new location was the first church home of Grace Church on
the Hill. In the new ediface there is a brass plate which states His
Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught stood below this plate as he laid
the corner stone for the new structure.
But the original frame church that had centered the founding of two
great congregations in North Toronto, was not finished with its pioneer
work. As soon as Grace Church on the Hill was ready for service the
sleds were again inserted under the old red frame church and it was
sledded down to the vicinity of Danforth and Main Streets where it is
still used for service.
The Baptist congregation of North Toronto present a story that is
somewhat different from that of thei other congregations. While many
of the Baptist Churches, in this section of the city, have had to struggle
up to their present important position, there is one North Toronto Baptist
Church which emerged without much of the pioneering effort that forms
the story of the others.
For many years there was a large Baptist Church on Bloor Street
West at the corner of St. Vincent Street. You will not find that street
there now for it was swallowed up in the great street extention of the
early 1920's that cut the present Bay Street through the city from Queen
to Bloor. This extension drew the eyes of big business to the property
of the Bloor Street Baptist Church. It was sold and arrangements were
made with the late Mr. Elias Rogers to erect a new and imposing church
on his property in Deer Park. The great church that stands there today
is York Minister Baptist Church
On the other side of the story, showing something of the faith and
struggle of the early settlers in North Toronto, Castlefield Avenue Baptist
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
Church is a splendid example. They did not have well filled money bags,
resulting from the sale of other property, behind them when the acorn was
planted that has since grown into the church on Castlefield Avenue.
The start of Castlefield Baptist Church was made in Davisville, in
1887, when Mrs. George Clarke gathered in a few children and com-
Castlefield Avenue Baptist Church
This church has been enlarged twice since the original
structure on the left was started almost forty years ago.
This church is typical of many in North Toronto that
have grown and expanded from a small beginning. During
their growth several of these struggling churches were
able to extend aid to other small congregations that were
starting up in Bedford Park and other sections of the
menced a Sunday school. A demand was created for organized services
and the Town Hall at Montgomery and Yonge was rented for Sunday
services. The corporation charged the congregation sixty cents rent per
Sunday. After a year of service there, with students from McMaster
University as preachers, the congregation took over a frame building
56 TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
at the corner of Castlefield and Yonge Streets. This was known as the
Yonge Street Baptist Church.
The early 1890's of the last century were an era of hard times and
the little congregation was forced to close the doors and revert to the
Town Hall for services. Some of the land surrounding the frame church
was sold and this money used to re-open the frame church and to install
an organ. In 1911 a plot of land was purchased in the rear of Castlefield,
the stately old structure that had given the district its name. Work was
commenced on a new church building and the original structure has
since been enlarged twice.
Until recent months there were a number of stately elm trees to
be seen just to the east of Castlefield Avenue Church. Those elm trees
once formed the border of the driveway that led up to Castlefield from
I wonder how many of the present congregation of the church realize
that as they worship in the church they are sitting directly above the
rear of old Castlefield were a group of government troops seeking William
Lyon Mackenzie after the battle of December 7, 1837, were stopped in their
search by an Irish cook armed with a hefty rolling pin. She had hidden
Mackenzie in a large cradle in the kitchen of Castlefield and dared the
soldiers to "wake" the baby. That night Mackenzie was given horse and
saddle from Castlefield and started his flight to Navy Island.
The story of the Presbyterian Church in North Toronto has a com-
mencement not unlike the story just related. In 1879 the Presbyterian
mission rented the old frame school building on the site of the Consumers
Gas show rooms.
After 10 years service here with considerable aid from a Presbyterian
Church near Yonge and St. Clair, it was decided to organize a congrega-
tion in North Toronto. Worship was held in the Town Hall and the old
Y.M.C.A. hall (now the Orange Hall). In 1898 the Eglinton Presbyterian
Church bought this property for $1,500. In 1899, the first year of worship
in the hall, it was reported that the total receipts from the congregation
The annual receipts of St. George's United Church (which grew out
of this early Presbyterian effort) are in the neighbourhood of $100,000.
In March of 1909, the Eglinton Presbyterian Church, having sold
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
the Orange Hall, opened their new church at St. Clements and Yonge
Streets. This is now the branch Public Library.
In 1921 work was started on a new church building on Lytton Boulevard.
In 1925 the majority of the congregation voted in favour of joining the
There were groups in the congregation who were not in favour of
this amalgamation and many of these minority groups withdrew and gave
their support to those who wanted the Presbyterian Church to continue.
These groups held services for some time in the Capitol Theatre
and then centred their energies on the erection of the charming building
on Glenview Avenue near Yonge Street.
While the Anglicans were the first denomination to organize church
services in North Toronto, there can be little doubt that priests of the
Church of Rome conducted services here before the first Anglican Church
was built at York Mills. "
In another section of this book the story of transportation has been
told but there is one phase of transportation that has been held back to
appear here This is the batteaux route of the great North West Fur
Company, with head quarters at Fort William.
In the early days of the last cen-
tury the supplies for the head office
were sailed up from Montreal to
York. They were then placed on
batteaux and floated up the Don
River to York Mills. From that
point scores of husky boatmen
carried the supplies, by pack sack,
to Holland Landing, where they
were loaded into the great canoes
for transporation to Fort William.
There can be little doubt that
this route was often used by mis-
sionaries of the Church of Rome
and that services were held en-
route amongst these voyageurs.
While the Anglican congregations of Christ Church and St. John's at
York Mills were growing, the members of the church in the town of
The First St. Clement's Church
This brick structure, built in the
early 1880's at a cost of $3,500.00,
was the commencement of the
stately St. Clement's of today.
58 TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
Eglinton commenced to think of a church of their own. In 1888 services were
held in the Orange Hall — where so many of the local churches had been
Beside the main doorway. Duplex Avenue, of St. Clements Church there
is a stone with the date 1891 cut deeply into it. That is the corner-
stone of the first St. Clement's Church that grew out of the preliminary
services held for three years in the Orange Hall in the rear of the present
Capital Theatre. The first church was of red brick and stood on the
southern portion of the lot. A comparison of building costs in 1952 as
compared with 1891 are of interest. It cost $3,500 to build the first St.
Clement's Church in 1891 That sum today would hardly pay for a
four-roomed shack. The present St. Clement's Church was erected in
1925 at a cost of $130,000. Since 1925 additions have been made and
plans have been completed for very extensive expansion.
However, the Xhurch of Rome, as established congregations, were
late in organizing in North Toronto. In the early years of the present
century the Rev. Father Player, C.S.B., did a great deal of missionary
work in the district just to the North of Eglinton Avenue. In 1906 he
saw his( labours blossom into fruit with the erection of St. Monica's
Church on the north side of Broadway Avenue.
Within twenty years of the establishment of this church, the Roman
Catholic population of North Toronto had increased to a point where
additional points of service were necessary. In 1926 the Blessed Sacrament
Church was erected on the west side of Yonge Street, overlooking Lawrence
Park. Also about that time the Roman Catholic Church secured the
large house and grounds that had been the home of R. J. Fleming, the
genial general manager of the old Toronto Street Railway Co. The old
Fleming house ,at the time of writing (1952) is still intact but extensive
educational buildings have been erected on the rear of the property.
These house the Holy Rosary School and St. Michaels' College High
School. The Ursuline Nuns also operate a school on St. Clair Avenue,
but as this is one of the most historic buildings in North Toronto, a
special section of this book has been devoted to it under the heading "The
Beginnings of Canadian Confederation".
For many years several of the Jewish congregations of Toronto
have used the western sections of St. Clements Avenue for burial
purposes. It is, however, only within recent years that they have erected
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
places of worship in the north end. Some very fine structures have
arisen on Bathurst Street. As the author looks on these new and
inspiring structures the question has often arisen in his mind concerning
the great temple built by King Solomon, in Jerusalem, some three thou-
sand years ago.
I have often wondered how many of the worshippers in these new
Synagogues realize that a fragment of Solomon's temple is still in existence.
It is a fragment from one of the elaborately carved pillar heads. It is
overlaid with gold and was discovered in Babylon (Mesopotamia) by a
British archeological party some years ago. This interesting fragment
has been inserted in the basement masonry of St. Paul's Cathedral, in
Its exact location is at the bottom of the circular stairway that leads
down to the crypt. An engraved brass plate is also inserted in the stone-
work. The plate reads:
"The only known fragment of the great temple erected
in Jerusalem by King Solomon."
The plate, in smaller type, then sets out the information as above.
The temple of Solomon was destroyed by Nebuchadnezar after serving the
Jewish people for some 400 years. Much of the loot was carried away
Early Fire Engine
The gleaming, motor-driven fire engines which now roar through the
streets of North Toronto had, like many other things, a very humble begin-
ning. North Toronto's first fire engine was housed in a metal shed that
stood on Montgomery Avenue, just
behind the Eglinton Town Hall. It
consisted of a two-wheeled cart, with
a seat for two men, and was drawn
by one horse. The cart carried about
200 feet of hose. When this fire
engine operated there were a few
hydrants on Yonge Street supplied ., .. ^ ^ , ^- . .-■ ,- .
. ^^ . ^ . ^ , North Toronto's Frrst Fire Engine
from a water tower at Roselawn and ^ ^as housed in the metal shed
Avenue Road. behind the Town Hall.
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
In 1895 a great artesian spring that spilled its waters near what is
now the corner of Roselawn and Avenue Road was selected as the site
of the first water works in North Toronto.
A large storage tank was erected and a steam pump installed to raise
the water from the spring to the tank. A separate engine and dynamo
were also housed in the shed and this current was used to light a few arc
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO 61
lamps on a small section of Yonge Street. Shortly after this early electric
service commenced to operate a fire damaged the dynamo and it was
necessary to construct temporary power lines to a plant that was supplying
the Fairbank district, some distance to the west.
An election poster, which was circulated in the late months of 1907,
gives a vivid picture of municipal matters in North Toronto at that time.
The question of water supply is uppermost. The artesian spring on
Roselawn Avenue is not able to give proper supply to the growing
community. The poster states that the candidate, seeking re-election for
municipal office, has succeeded during 1907 in having a proper engineering
office installed in the Town Hall. The poster states that the gigantic sum
of five hundred dollars has been expended on this office and that it is
complete with draughting tables, filing cabinets, desks and all other neces-
The engineer at that time was the late E. A. James and he was
giving much thought to the linking up of a number of wells on the east of
the J. R. Strathy property. He proposed that the water from these numerous
sources be gathered in a central tank and then pumped, by steam, over to
Yonge Street. The estimated cost of this scheme was placed at $135,000.
The candidate, seeking re-election, in his poster is all for drawing a
water supply from Lemonville at a cost of $300,000. He paints a vivid
picture of this supply which he describes as "pure and never failing".
This candidate is also out for turning "darkness into light". He proposes
that the electric current supply be supplemented so that the householders
may have electric light in their homes.
He also swings his axe at the condition of the roads, including Yonge
Street. He calls the roads "quagmires" and proposed drastic action (short
of paving) to end this abuse. He is also very much "let-up" over the
fact that high school students are obliged to attend classes in what he
describes as "one or two unsatisfactory class rooms". He promises, if
elected, to see that a proper high school is erected.
And in due time it all came to pass. The North Toronto High School
was erected. Water Services, not from Lemonville, but from Lake Ontario,
flowed into the area.
The streets were paved and the Toronto Hydro-Electric System was
extended to end the household darkness.
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
North Toronto Real Estate
THERE are few sections of Toronto which have seen real estate
values increase in a greater proportion than has been the case in
North Toronto. Reference has been made, in an earlier section, of
how the owner of the Red Lion Hotel, with 200 acres of land, on the
north east corner of Bloor and Yonge Streets, was unable to sell the lot
.JAC O/i /-Av^'if'^C(
Z>i Tf/l l nn ^(
\s, f ^ U £
a/OHfJ I. /\Y^fte rvcC
J K /VJI^
J R. STAi/ij,
Jo /"v 57-/,ga AR o
A V £ A/ u E-
A Map of North Toronto in the 1870's
TALES OF NORTH TORONTO 63
and building for $400 in 1807. At the present time this property is worth
several million dollars.
There were no streets running east and west of " Yonge between
Eglinton and Lawrence Avenues. The property was all held in large blocks.
Map shows the land owners just after the middle of the last century.
On the map is shown the location of Castlefield and the Jackes estate
which ran from Yonge to Bathurst Street. On this property there are
now St. Clements, Briar Hill, Castlefield and Craighurst Avenues. In 1883
this block of land and the great house known as Castlefield were sold
for $16,000. The value of that land today is in excess of fifteen millions.
During the low curve of the depression of the 1930's there were many
houses in the "good" sections offered for as little as $6,000. Those same
houses today, renovated and oil heated, are selling for prices between
fifteen and twenty four thousand.
A WINDY YARN
During the battle of Montgomery's farm December 7, 1837, when the
government troops engaged the forces of William Lyon Mackenzies,
the conflict was witnessed by a farm hand from Castlefield. His
name was John McCillucuddy, and he stood well back, and to the west
side of the conflict. John had never seen a cannon fired. The government
troops had a small field piece and during the fight this small gun was
fired a few times. This left a lasting impression on John and in after
years he told and retold the story and with each recaption the details
became more vivid.
When Franklin Jackes took over Castlefield from J. H. Price, in 1842,
John stayed on as one of the farm hands. By this time, five years after
the conflict, his version of the fired cannon had developed to a point where
he declared that he was standing over near Bathurst Street and the wind
created by the cannon ball going up Yonge Street, blew him off his feet.
Old John died soon after the story had developed to that length. Had he
lived it is interenting to speculate as to what dire depths the cannon
ball story might have developed.
This is a publication of the Canadian Historical Press,
159 Albertus Avenue, Toronto 12, Ontario.
64 TALES OF NORTH TORONTO
The following North Toronto firms have aided in the research
and illustrations for this book:
THE DOMINION BANK and its 10 branches in the area covered in
TRULL FUNERAL HOMES, 2704 Yonge Street.
PARKES, McVITTIE & SHAW, General Insurance, 2436 Yonge Street.
BELYEA BROTHERS, LTD., and Alderman Roy Belyea.
BELSIZE JEWELLERS, 1977 Yonge Street.
MILWIN RADIO & APPLIANCES, 3145 Yonge Street. All types of
radio and electrical household appliances.
S. R. CARDISH, FURS, 2605 Yonge Street.
EMPIRE WALL PAPERS, LTD., 2512^^ Yonge Street.
HYLAND MOTORS, LTD., 2673 Yonge Street.
RUTTLE & RUTTLE, Real Estate Dealers in North Toronto for
CONFEDERATION LIFE ASSOCIATION, R. N. Bray, Manager, 28
Eglinton Avenue West.
THE CAPITOL THEATRE, North Toronto's First.
THE EVANGALINE SHOPS, Women's Wear and Accessories.
POLLACK SHOES, LTD., and their numerous stores in the area
covered in this book.
ROSS KNOWLES & CO., complete investment service, 330 Bay
MILNES COAL CO., on the Old Belt Line.
HONEY DEW COFFEE SHOPS, numerous stores in the area described.
FRAN RESTAUEANT and DINING ROOM, For good eating in North
Toronto, 21 St. Clair Avenue West; Yonge and Egllnton.
WM. MITCHELL, 2 hardware stores, Fairlawn and Yonge and 2425
F. C. BURROUGHES FURNITURE CO., 529 Bayview Avenue.
YONGE AJ^D ST CLAIR BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONAL
PETE WOODS, 2500 Yonge Street, men's furnishings.
J. ATKINSON & SONS, 3164 Yonge Street, North Toronto's oldest
S. BASSIN, oldest tailoring establishment in North Toronto.
PARKERS DYE WORKS & CLEANERS, 791 Yonge Street, Established
CONTROLLER LOUIS SHANNON, Q.C., 357 Bay Street
R. B. RICE & SONS LTD., 2069 Yonge Street.
EARLE ELLIOTT FUNERAL HOMES, 2287 Yonge Street.
EGLINTON THEATRE, 400 Eglinton West.
5 I.D-A. Druggists in North Toronto:
LILLICO PHARMACY, 2619 Yonge Street.
LAWRENCE PARK PHARMACY, Yonge at Lawrence.
J. M. MERRICK, Avenue Road and Fairlawn.
FOREST HILL PHARMACY, 521 Eglinton West.
YOUNG'S DRUG STORE, 265 Eglinton West
PIGOTT MOTORS (CANADA) LTD., Buick, Pontiac, GMC Trucks,
2424 Yonge Street.
LITTLE PIE SHOP, Wedding and birthday cakes, choice pastry,
2568 Yonge Street
SAMPSON MATTHEWS LTD., 1189 Yonge Street.
WELSH LUMBER CO. LTD., 2219 Yonge Street.
«^^ 80 McCallum Press Ltd., 1601 Queen Street East
BINDERY INC. |B|
f A T Pi^J" N. MANCHESTER,
Bound -To -Pleas^ INDIANA 46962