NORTH YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY

established in the

Borough of North York, 1960

 

Lectures

Newsletters

Walking tours

Community heritage events

Archives for research and study

North York heritage/history promotion

Historic plaquing and markers

 

The Society has an appointee on the Gibson House/Historic Zion Schoolhouse Museum Board. *

 

The Society encourages members to serve as citizen representatives on the North York Community Preservation Panel. *

 

 

Affiliate of the Ontario Historical Society

 

Founding member of the Toronto Historical Association

(previously Metro Area Heritage Group)

 

Non-profit organization sponsored in part by a grant from the Ontario Ministry of Culture.

 

Charitable receipts for income tax purposes provided for donations.

 

*City of Toronto appointments.

 

 

 

CENTURIES OF CHANGE IN OUR COMMUNITY

 

For thousands of years, the First Nations lived, hunted, traveled and bartered in the North York area of the City of Toronto.  When John Graves Simcoe, the first Lieutenant Governor of the newly created province of Upper Canada, moved the capital from Newark (Niagara-on-the-Lake) to the Town of York in 1793, the foundations of the future growth were laid.  York became the economic center of the province, attracting merchants, entrepreneurs and settlers. 

 

With about 50,000 acres of gently rolling countryside and Yonge Street as the main road, villages sprang up at crossroads, and wherever there was waterpower for mills.  The area became one of the most desirable and forests soon gave way to farmsteads and fertile fields.

 

In 1922, the Township of North York was incorporated, with a population of 6,000.  The township prospered, soon there were schools, libraries, stores, recreation facilities and the first planned subdivision in Canada.

 

By 1960, the area had changed and local residents were concerned that the early history was vanishing.  The North York Historical Society was formed, with strong support from the C. W. Jefferys Chapter of the Independent Order of the Daughters of the Empire and Mayor James Service.

  

 

NORTH YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY

and its place in the local community

 

In 1963, Mayor James Service commissioned an inventory of heritage properties in then Borough of North York; the Gibson House was one of only three historical buildings identified. Recognizing its importance, the Society lobbied for preservation, restoration and adaptive re-use as a museum.

 

In 1964, the borough acquired the Gibson House, which was officially opened as a museum in 1971, with support from the Society, historical interpreters, exhibits, displays and an annual festival. 

 

The David Gibson House was designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act, North York City Council, 1980 and also recognized with a provincial plaque.

 

The Society won the American Association of State and Local History Award of Merit in 1985.

 

Through the years, the Society has worked tirelessly to support preservation of historic buildings in the North York community:  David Duncan House, Dempsey Store, Elihu Pease House, Jolly Miller Tavern (now the Miller Tavern) and more. 

 

 The Society compiled an archive of the history of the area, which was located in the Canadiana Department of the North York Central Library.  The North York Historical Society’s Heritage Resource Centre and offices are now at the historic Miller Tavern.  Available to researchers, by appointment. 

 

 

 

 

 The Society sponsored two bronze sculptures: 

C.W. JEFFERYS 1869-1951

Canada’s foremost historical artist

in a park at York Mills, east of the Miller Tavern (off Yonge Street). 

 

ROBERT GOURLAY 1778-1863

social reformer

in St. James Park, King Street East, between Church & Jarvis.

 

Sculptor:  Adrienne Alison