Golf Club moves from Rosedale to Hogg’s Hollow

John Firstbrook had just made a very good deal. On May 17, 1909, he agreed to sell 72 acres of his York Mills farm to the Rosedale Golf Club for $22,500 – slightly less than the Toronto businessman paid for the entire ‘Humberstone farm’ the previous year.

The best part was that Firstbrook still owned nearly 20 acres along Yonge Street that he turned into a small subdivision beside today’s Loblaw store, including Doncliffe Drive and Forest Glen Crescent. After moving into one of his new houses, he gratefully became a member of the new golf course next door.

Firstbrook wasn’t the only one happy with the deal. Robert Rennie, who made the offer on behalf of Rosedale, ended up with a desperately needed new location for the prestigious club.

Founded in 1893 by the minister of Deer Park Presbyterian Church, the Rosedale Golf Club (called Deer Park Golf Club for its first two years) was located on a small property in Moore Park. But when the landlord raised the rent in 1895, the golfers took advantage of an offer to wrap a new course around the lacrosse field of the Toronto Lacrosse and Athletic Association in Rosedale Field, just north of the Rosedale neighbourhood. Golfers shared the lacrosse players’ clubhouse before renting a separate house nearby.

For 14 years, the 18-hole golf course shared an uneasy alliance with the lacrosse club. But now the developers who leased the land to the golfers were anxious to remove them and start building houses. Not only did the golf club not own the land underneath its fairways, it was also losing members to the new Lambton Golf Club with its spacious, picturesque links on the Humber River.

After Rennie purchased the back-end of Firstbrook’s property, he went on to buy more than a half-dozen adjoining parcels of land, including about 20 acres from Robert Dack, the developer of Teddington Park. When Rennie was through, he’d nearly doubled the size of the club’s new venue: 130 acres for just under $40,000.

The club then paid Tom Bendelow $25 to design a new 18-hole golf course on the Firstbrook property. While he was creating the new course, the golfers back at Rosedale Field were becoming increasingly anxious to make the move. The urgency was increased in the hectic summer of 1909 when thousands of football fans descended on the field for the matches leading up to Canada’s first Grey Cup game, which was held there on December 9.

The new Rosedale Golf Club in Bedford Park opened for the 1910 season, although the clubhouse was still under construction. Two years later, the club hosted the Canadian Open. It was the first time the national championship was open to golf pros from American clubs – George Sargent of Washington ended up winning. Rosedale hosted the Open again in 1928.

The noted golf course architect Donald Ross was hired in 1919 to redesign the fairways, and a new clubhouse for the Rosedale Golf and Country Club was opened in 1961.

This article, written by Gary Schlee, originally appeared in the Summer 2012 issue of Community Life.

 

Published in: on December 27, 2019 at 8:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

First neighbourhood church becomes a holy roller

At the beginning of 1908, there were no churches in the Town of North Toronto north of Lawrence. Most worshippers made their way down Yonge Street to Eglinton Methodist, Eglinton Presbyterian, St. Clement’s Anglican or St. Monica’s Roman Catholic. The electric railway line didn’t operate on Sunday, limiting church-goers’ travel options to carriage, wagon, horseback or footpower.

Early in the year, the rector of St. Clement’s, Canon T.W. Powell, set up a mission for the Bedford Park Anglicans. They began meeting in homes until they were able to complete a frame church at 38 Bowood Avenue for about $2,000 – the community’s first church. Nearly 130 people turned up on October 22 to listen to the Bishop of the Falkland Islands, the guest preacher, preside over the first service.

For the next nine years, the small St. Clement’s Mission congregation slowly expanded. In the winter, it was necessary for someone to stoke up the large Quebec stove on Saturday night so that the building would be warm enough Sunday morning. Some worshippers walking in from Yonge Street would carry newspapers to use as stepping stones through Bowood’s gummy mud. Women were allowed to attend a church business meeting for the first time in 1915. That same year, the church hired its first caretaker for $1 a week and an organ pumper who was paid $1.50 for 50 Sundays.

After several attempts, the mission became self-supporting in 1918. A separate parish was created north of St. Leonard’s Avenue in Lawrence Park. Rev. Charles Carpenter became the first rector, a post he held until the end of the Second World War.

St. Leonard’s was outgrowing its 24-foot-by-48-foot church, and a small $450 addition for the Sunday School and choir in 1919 didn’t relieve the pressure. A stable built by the city to the west created a noxious mix of horse manure and stored garbage that wafted through the windows on Sunday mornings. It was time to move.

The church purchased land on Arundel Avenue (now Wanless) for $11,200 and made the decision to move in 1921. The last service was held on Bowood on May 15, after which services shifted temporarily to the kindergarten room at Bedford Park Public School.

The church was then raised onto logs. Each Saturday for the next month, men from St. Leonard’s laboriously hauled and rolled the building along streets and through vacant lots to its new home two blocks away. By the end of the first Saturday, it had been shoved east along Bowood to a vacant lot east of Bocastle. A week later, it was sitting at 119 Ranleigh and the week after that, it was lying in the field behind the school. On June 11, it was resting on its new foundation.

The building – enlarged with brick veneer added – continued to serve St. Leonard’s until the current church was constructed in 1952. Eight years later, a new wing was built in memory of Rev. Canon John Dykes, the church’s second rector from 1945 to 1956. In the next 20 years, the church also benefitted from the assistance of Canon William W. Judd, described as the Anglican church’s “social conscious gadfly”. He remained active until his death in 1981 at age 97.

This article, written by Gary Schlee, originally appeared in the Spring 2012 issue of Community Life.

Published in: on December 27, 2019 at 8:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

North Toronto goes dry

The sale of alcohol in the Town of North Toronto ended in 1908 when citizens endorsed a prohibition referendum. It dramatically curtailed the viability of hotels strung along Yonge Street from Merton to Yonge Boulevard.

Liquor consumption had played a central role on the community’s main street since the first hotels opened for business nearly 100 years earlier. Travellers moving up and down Yonge were able to totter from inn to inn, having a pint or two before proceeding to the next watering hole. Neighbourhood residents also frequented the tap rooms at the Hill Inn, Durham Ox Inn or Bedford Park Hotel – all located at one time or another in the Yonge-Lawrence area.

Only the Bedford Park Hotel near Fairlawn Avenue was still operating by 1908. When North Toronto voted to prohibit alcohol sales, the hotel remained open as a temperance house run by Edward Jackson. Although it was still a place to socialize – without beer, wine or liquor – it didn’t last. Seven years later the tap room became the first sanctuary for a new Methodist congregation that grew to become today’s Fairlawn Avenue United Church around the corner.

When the North Toronto councillors decided to hold a referendum, they were exercising the ‘local option’ that had been given to municipalities and counties by the government of the United Canadas 44 years earlier in 1864. It was the colony’s way of passing the controversial issue down to local governments.

From temperance house to church – the Bedford Park Hotel in 1915.

Later governments also avoided the issue. A federal referendum in 1898 was won by the prohibitionists, but not by enough to convince Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier to do anything about it. A provincial referendum in 1902 was won by the prohibitionists, but not by enough to convince Premier George Ross to do anything about it. As a result, Ross was kicked off the executive of the Dominion Alliance for the Total Suppression of the Liquor Traffic. (Ross was a member of the St. James Square Presbyterian congregation, a church that later became St. James Bond United in a merger, and later still, a part of Fairlawn Avenue United.)

Once the 1908 North Toronto plebiscite was announced, there’s little doubt that the organized prohibitionists headed north from the city to convince town voters to ban drinking. Leading the charge were members of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, the Sons of Temperance, and the Dominion Alliance. The drive was successful; the town voted to go dry.

In 1916, the entire province followed suit with the adoption of the Ontario Temperance Act. It was now impossible to buy alcohol, except for “medicinal, mechanical and sacramental purposes.” The federal government briefly enacted prohibition a year later, at the end of the First World War. This law was soon lifted, but the Ontario act remained. Many Ontarians simply drove to Montreal to buy alcohol – or acquired it by prescription. Nearly 90 per cent of prescriptions involving alcohol in 1920 had no medical merit. The province repealed its temperance act in 1927.

This article, written by Gary Schlee, originally appeared in the Winter 2011 issue of Community Life.

 

Published in: on December 26, 2019 at 7:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Lawrence Park, the garden suburb

In November 1907, the Standard Loan Company spent $47,000 to buy the old 178-acre John Lawrence farm on the southeast corner of Yonge and Lawrence – the first step in Wilfrid Dinnick’s vision to turn the area into a garden suburb of Toronto.

Within a month, the purchase of the Harris farm to the south added another 85 acres to the venture, now christened Lawrence Park. Dinnick’s plan was to create a subdivision with large properties interspersed with plenty of gardens and open space that would attract wealthy Torontonians looking to escape the noise and pollution of the city.

Through his subsidiary company, Dovercourt Land Building & Savings, he hired British engineer Walter Brooke to create a community like London’s garden suburb of Hampstead. By 1910, the first phase was designed and ready for sale. It stretched from Yonge to east of Sidmouth Avenue (later renamed Mount Pleasant), and from Lawrence south to Dawlish. Anchoring the design was the oval Lawrence Crescent ringing the old Lawrence farmhouse.

To stimulate sales, Dovercourt built seven houses on the tract that were quickly occupied or rented. Dinnick’s family moved into 77 St. Edmund’s Drive, while his mother moved into the neighbouring home further down the road (now 35 St. Edmund’s). House sales started out slowly. The 1911 census listed only eight property owners in the new subdivision.

Meanwhile, Dovercourt expanded its holdings by buying the Anderson farm on the other side of Yonge Street in 1911 and acquiring the Garland farm south of the subdivision in 1912. Lawrence Park now covered an area from Yonge to Bayview and from Lawrence to Blythwood. That same year, it became part of Toronto when it absorbed the Town of North Toronto.

Selling points to entice buyers included the fact that the land was 400 feet above Lake Ontario and boasted pure air, cool summers, winding roads, cement sidewalks, bowling greens and ‘architectural harmony’. Particularly impressive were the landscaped gardens being developed by Lorrie Dunnington-Grubb. A few years later, she and her husband Howard Grubb would found Sheridan Nurseries. The subdivision was also on the Metropolitan Street Railway that would shuttle commuters to and from the city.

The First World War curtailed sales and construction. Changes to the tax laws further hampered the development. To unload properties more quickly, Dovercourt (now being managed by Sterling Trusts) held a property auction. It also sold 14 acres of its Yonge Street parkland and ravines to the city in an effort to eliminate its tax arrears. The collapse of his companies in 1919 financially ruined Dinnick. He suffered a heart attack and a stroke, prompting him to move back to his native England where he died at age 49.

The suburb eventually filled in, riding the building booms of the 1920s and the 1950s. It remained strictly residential with only two exceptions: the George H. Locke Memorial Library at the west end and Lawrence Park Community Church at the east end. Several schools were built to the south, in the Strathgowan Addition along Blythwood.

Further information about the grand suburban experiment can be found in Historical Walking Tour of Lawrence Park by Barbara Myrvold and Lynda Moon, for sale at Locke Library.

This article, written by Gary Schlee, originally appeared in the Fall 2011 issue of Community Life.

Published in: on December 26, 2019 at 7:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Deloraine’s ‘Treetops’ has been home to pilots, tenants and students

The three-story home sticks out with its bold turret, boulder-size cobblestone façade and Tudor-striped upper floors. Even the newer infill stucco behemoth houses in the neighbourhood pale in comparison to the striking castle-like structure at 21 Deloraine Avenue, home to the Dunblaine School for Children With Learning Difficulties.

Built about 1905, and nicknamed ‘Treetops’, the huge house looked even larger because there was nothing else around it. Sitting near Yonge Street on a corner of the St. Germain property, it predated the Melrose subdivision that created Deloraine Avenue and most of the surrounding houses. Even 15 years after its construction, there were only two other houses on the first block of the new street – further up on the north side.

The house may have been built by Alfred Ansley, a prominent Toronto hat manufacturer who lived on the west side of Yonge about this time. Ansley went on to build ‘Ansley Castle’, an imposing crenellated structure that only lasted about 15 years just east of today’s John Ross Robertson School.

By 1912, Treetops was vacant and subsequently owned by a succession of real estate speculators. John W. Brown, the owner during the First World War, rented the house to the North Toronto Flying Station pilot training program. Many British pilots came to Canada to train at the nearby Armour Heights airfield (now replaced by the Avenue Road/401 interchange).

The house was likely used for some classes and as a pilot residence. It may also have been a place of convalescence for the apprentice pilots who crashed in the area’s farmfields.

Charles Stoddart, a chemist with Bauer & Black surgical supplies in Toronto, bought the house in 1921 and lived there for the next 14 years. During the Depression, the house was acquired by Norval Waddington for his St. Paul’s School for Boys. The school moved to this location from the former Jarvis residence on the northeast corner of Yonge and Lawrence. The Jarvis house was being torn down to make way for the Du Maurier Apartments. Waddington lived in his Deloraine school.

The school closed in 1941 and the ‘Treetops’ house was split into apartments. For the next 60 years, it was home to tenants living in three or four units.

In the past decade, the house became the home of the Dunblaine School, a non-profit elementary school for students diagnosed as learning disabled. Not surprisingly, the school’s first location was on Dunblaine Avenue, in Armour Heights United Church. The Armour Heights congregation joined Fairlawn United Church in 1989.

This article, written by Gary Schlee, originally appeared in the Summer 2011 issue of Community Life.

Published in: on December 25, 2019 at 12:06 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Shoe mandarin created Teddington Park

Just over a year ago, a shoe brand that had a 173-year connection with Toronto went bankrupt. Dack Shoes, which bounced around through different owners over the last few decades, quietly shut down its last six Canadian stores in 2009.

It was a business that had its beginnings with Irish cobbler Matthew Dack who arrived in Kingston in 1834 and soon after moved to Toronto where he opened a shop on King Street specializing in custom-made shoes. When he died in 1842, the store passed to his son Edward – although he was only eight years old at the time. Edward ran the business for nearly 60 years, until it passed to his son Robert.

It was Robert who expanded the business, adding a second store in Toronto and opening shops in Montreal and Winnipeg. Befitting his role as a successful retail businessman, Robert wanted to build a country estate that would adequately reflect his standing in the community.

He had purchased 20 acres of land in 1887 on the east side of Yonge Street, just where the road dipped down to Hogg’s Hollow. It wasn’t until 1903 that he built an imposing three-storey house with a wraparound porch and large second-floor balcony, set well back from the street. He enjoyed his spacious country retreat – named Bedford Lodge – for the next nine years, then embarked on a real estate venture with his neighbour to the south, Nicholas Garland (who owned the former Charlesworth house).

The two men created the Teddington Park subdivision with a boulevard of the same name running down the centre. Dack sold some of his property to the Rosedale Golf Club that had moved into the area a few years earlier. The rest of tract was carved into large lots for fashionable homes. In 1914 he moved into one of the newer houses to east of Bedford Lodge. He died in his home at 45 Teddington Park in 1932.

Dack sold Bedford Lodge in 1917 to Wilfrid S. Dinnick, the man who created the much larger Lawrence Park development a kilometre to the south. However, Dinnick’s financial empire collapsed at the end of the First World War and he suffered a heart attack. He moved back to England and Dack foreclosed on his Bedford Lodge mortgage.

In the early 1920s, the Yonge frontage of the property was sold and turned into a row of stores running up to Glen Echo. Frank Stollery, the owner of the men’s clothing store that still occupies the southwest corner of Yonge and Bloor lived in Bedford Lodge for many years, until his death in 1971. The estate was demolished in 1978.

The sturdy, quality shoes and boots that carried the Dack name will soon be a memory. However, it’s still possible to pick up something from the meager remains of the stores’ inventory at Danbury Liquidation Outlet in Oakville.

This article, written by Gary Schlee, originally appeared in the Spring 2011 issue of Community Life.

Published in: on December 24, 2019 at 10:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Turn-of-the-Century Yonge Street

There was premonition of impending growth in the Bedford Park neighbourhood as the residents entered the 20th century. Realistically, one still couldn’t call the area a community. At best, there were about 50 families strung along Yonge Street north of Lawrence – and that included the growing number moving into bungalows slowly springing up on Bedford Park and Woburn avenues.

There were omens to suggest the time simply wasn’t ripe for rapid expansion. The province was still haltingly digging its way out of an economic recession and the local government had vetoed the construction of a large factory two years earlier that effectively scuttled the Bedford Park Company’s vision of a bustling company town with 1,500 homes.

However, other events held the promise of boom times. Bedford Park had its own post office and had been a part of the Town of North Toronto for eight years. Despite frustration with service and rates, the residents had access to the Metropolitan Street Railway (the last stagecoach service disappeared in 1897). That meant living in Bedford Park was becoming more tempting for Toronto workers looking for cheaper homes.

A walk up Yonge Street in 1900 makes it clear that Bedford Park is still a rural region. The white frame house that had been the Atkinson store is on the northwest corner at Lawrence, even though the family has moved the store up to the Ellis brick building, still standing at Yonge and Bedford Park 111years later. Behind the house is the farm of Sam Lawrence, the town’s deputy reeve. Across the road, on the east side of Yonge, is Frank Lawrence’s farm in a stretch largely devoted to market gardening.

One of the handful of houses south of the Atkinson store is one that will later become the Dr. William Keith home (on the site of the Pall Mall Apartments). Just north of Atkinson’s is the estate of William Ellis, with its ornate white wooden gates. Further up the west side are a few more houses, then the clapboard Bedford Park Wagon Works, a tiny farmhouse and then the Bedford Park Hotel and the St. Germain estate. In addition to the farm of George McCormack, there is the home of cattle dealer Robert Cook.

The creek behind the Atkinson store meant there are very few houses on Bedford Park, the most imposing being William Ellis’s estate on the north side and the old Mason house with its round tower on the south side.

Woburn had a growing number of white frame bungalows, occupied by jewelers John & Thomas Loach and Arthur Taylor; teamster Thomas Atkinson; painter Joseph Stockdale; gardener Joseph Ready; machinists William Oliver and William Scott; and labourers Joseph Kirk and William Birch.

Bedford Park in 1900 wasn’t a shanty town, but it was a scanty town.

This article, written by Gary Schlee, originally appeared in the Winter 2010 issue of Community Life.

Published in: on December 24, 2019 at 10:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Saturday Night editor’s home moved behind the bank

Tucked behind the TD Bank on Yonge at Teddington Park is a large grey stucco home with a mansard roof. Try to picture the house sitting on the TD site, facing Yonge as a regal red brick home in the 1890s – because that’s exactly where, and what, it was.

Originally built in the 1870s, it’s one of the oldest homes in the community. For over 15 years it was the only large home between the tollgate at today’s Loblaw store and a handful of workers’ cottages at today’s Snowdon Avenue

In the 1890s, it was occupied by the Charlesworth family. Horatio Charlesworth worked in real estate and shoes, and his two sons, Hector and Lionel, were still living at home. Hector Willoughby Charlesworth was only 21 in 1894 but had already completed a frustrating apprenticeship as an accountaint and a satisfying year as an assistant editor at the still young Saturday Night magazine. It had been his dream to work for the publication ever since contributing poems and articles to it as teenager using the pseudonym ‘Touchstone’.

But already he had moved on, working as a reporter for the World and then the Empire. Although he covered news stories, he found he particularly enjoyed the role of arts critic, in literature, painting, theatre and music.

By 1897, Hector had married Catherine Ryan and moved out of his parents’ Yonge Street home. In 1910, he left newspapers to return to Saturday Night as assistant managing editor, then editor 16 years later.

Charlesworth became best known as the Group of Seven’s chief detractor, referring to their style as “the hot mush school”. Covering an exhibit of J.E.H. MacDonald’s canvases in 1916, he noted that the artist “certainly does throw his paint pots in the public’s face.”

In 1932, Prime Minister R.B. Bennett asked Charlesworth to chair the newly created Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission (which later became the CBC). People had high expectations about how the commission might contribute to public broadcasting, making the posting a controversial one. When the Liberals returned to power three later, Mackenzie King had Charlesworth removed for perceived Tory bias.

‘Old Hec’ returned to Toronto and spent the rest of his life contributing freelance art criticism to a variety of publications. His interesting life was captured in three memoirs: Candid Chronicles, More Candid Chronicles and I’m Telling You.

His parent’s home on Yonge has gone through many owners and changes since Charlesworth lived there. It was purchased in 1911 by Nicholas Garland who with neighbour Robert Dack carved up their properties to create the Teddington Park subdivision, featuring a boulevard down the middle. In 1928, Garland’s house was moved back from the street to sit on the site of the former stables and swung around 90 degrees to face the new Teddington Park Avenue. It was done to make room for a branch of the Dominion Bank on Yonge. The bank became the Toronto Dominion Bank in 1955 and has since been enlarged.

The house was a multiple dwelling for years and eventually acquired a coat of stucco. It is once again a single family dwelling.

This article, written by Gary Schlee, originally appeared in the Fall 2010 issue of Community Life.

 

190 years of mass transit on Yonge

From the time the first settlers put down roots in the neighbourhood by hacking small farm plots out of their 200-acre forested properties, Yonge Street has served as the transportation umbilical cord that made it possible. It evolved from a muddy, stump-infested quagmire to a bumpy crushed-stone roadway partly paid for by tolls.

The first stagecoaches started braving the road in the 1820s and remained the preferred mode of transportation for the next 70 years. In 1886, the Metropolitan Street Railway of Toronto launched its horse-drawn railway service from the CPR tracks at Summerhill north to Stop 21 at Glengrove Avenue.

When the MSRT began flirting with electric railways in 1890, it helped fuel land speculation in the Yonge-Lawrence area. The first development was Bedford Park, owned by the Ellis Brothers who hoped buyers would be interested in acquiring a suburban wood-frame bungalow within walking distance of an electric railway that would carry them to Toronto.

An economic slump dashed their optimism. New buyers weren’t readily found, and the MSRT reverted to horse-drawn power after only one month of electric service. However, 1892 brought better news to the developers. The radial railway – so named because it radiated from the city – added five more stops to its route, extending to today’s Melrose Avenue (Stop 26). And, thanks to gentle pressure from Toronto politicians, electric railcars were back in use.

As the community started to grow, the radial railway was a lifeline for many residents needing a way to get to goods, services and jobs. However, it was not a way to get to church since it was a six-days-a-week operation. A ‘blue law’, upheld in an 1892 referendum in Toronto, set aside Sundays as a day of worship and rest. Five years later, a second referendum narrowly overturned the ban.

Well into the 20th century, the radial train to Toronto was the service that residents loved to hate – perhaps not so different than today’s service. Local leaders like William G. Ellis and Alfred St. Germain railed against the high fares and erratic schedules on the Yonge Street line.

Who to ‘rail’ against was a moving target in the early 1900s as the Metropolitan Railway Company gave way to the Toronto and York Radial Railway Company, owned by a series of behind-the-scenes organizations, including the Toronto Railway Company, the City of Toronto and the Hydro Electric Power Commission of Ontario. In 1922, the city replaced the radial cars with streetcars, and five years later the Toronto Transportation Commission took control of the line, marking the first time all streetcars in Toronto were operated by the same company.

Radial service continued north from the Toronto and York Radial Terminal (now the Loblaw store) to Richmond Hill until 1948, while the ‘Red Rockets’ continued to run south on Yonge from the Glen Echo TTC Terminal right next door. The streetcars were replaced by electric trolley buses in 1954 when the subway opened as far as Eglinton. Eventually the trolley wires came down when buses switched to diesel.

This article, written by Gary Schlee, originally appeared in the Summer 2010 issue of Community Life.

Published in: on December 24, 2019 at 7:52 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Bedford Park never officially a village

Although the name Bedford Park has been used to describe the neighbourhood for more than 120 years, it was never an incorporated municipality with its own elected officials.

The name, likely used in the1880s to describe the few houses clustered around Yonge north of the Fifth Concession (Lawrence Avenue), was borrowed from the nearby Bedford Park Hotel.

When jeweler/developer Philip Ellis was given permission to establish a post office at Yonge and Bedford Park Avenue in 1891, the name given to the station was Bedford Park. But it was just a postal address. The community was still part of York Township, governed by a council led by Reeve Thomas Humberstone Jr. who ran a pottery further up Yonge Street.

To the south of Bedford Park was the brand new Town of North Toronto, created in 1890 by a merger of the villages of Eglinton and Davisville. The new town, under Mayor John Fisher, had inherited the York Township council chambers since they were located on Yonge a few blocks north of Eglinton.

From the beginning, North Toronto looked further north with longing eyes, hoping to annex the Bedford Park area that was poised to get its first subdivision of the same name. The post office was only open a year when North Toronto formally took possession of the area in 1892 – all the way from the Burke Brook ravine to the crest of the hill on Yonge Street before it descends into Hogg’s Hollow.

The community was generally happy to join the town. It was just starting to experience real growth, despite being clobbered by an economic recession. It was looking to the new municipality to encourage construction of the new commuter railway slowly making its way north on Yonge. Once the line was in place, the community relied on the town’s support in the ongoing fight to keep rail rates down and service up.

Because Bedford Park isn’t an official political entity, its boundaries have always been open to interpretation. By the time the Town of North of Toronto was annexed to the City of Toronto in 1912, Bedford Park was the city’s northernmost arm. It’s borders remained essentially the same until Toronto and its surrounding Metro neighbours were amalgamated in the 1990s. Lawrence Avenue serves as the southern boundary, while the western boundary runs north between Avenue Road and Elm. The north boundary is just south of Brooke Avenue on the west side of Yonge, and just north Glen Echo Road east of Yonge. The eastern border is the most indistinct of all, running along the east edge of Wanless Park south to Lawrence and north to a spot in the middle of the Rosedale Golf links.

Within those boundaries are other subdivisions built after the Bedford Park one was largely completed. They include Melrose Park, Teddington Park and Wanless Park. Despite the lack of parkland in the neighbourhood, the word appeared to be tacked on to every subdivision in hopes of creating the illusion of pastoral space.

Despite attempts by the Yonge Street merchants’ Business Improvement Area to rechristen the area Yonge Lawrence Village, the name Bedford Park lives on today as a primary way to describe the community.

This article, written by Gary Schlee, originally appeared in the Spring 2010 issue of Community Life.

Published in: on December 24, 2019 at 5:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,