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Sheppard Avenue named after North Yorker who fought in War of 1812

December 29, 2023

One man, Joseph Shepard (one “p”), with two North York places named in his honour with different spellings. There’s the 14-floor federal government office building, The Joseph Shepard Building, 4900 Yonge St. It’s just north of Sheppard Avenue (two “p’s.”) also named after him. Why this happened is unknown. Ironically,… Read more

Toronto’s Bridle Path started out in early ’30s with homes that cost as much as $10,000

November 24, 2023

Neighbourhoods usually clamour for better roads, but not The Bridle Path, among Canada’s most affluent residential districts, located in North York’s Bayview-Lawrence area. There are more street names, but the whole is referred to as The Bridle Path after the main street. It was started in 1933 by Hubert Page,… Read more

North York’s Downsview Airport served many roles

October 20, 2023

“Think Budgie Died of Shock As Jets Broke Sound Barrier,” the Toronto Star headed a front-page story Jan. 11, 1954 about the demise of the beloved pet of the Brett family, who lived on North York’s Sunbeam Avenue near Downsview Airport, the jets’ base. “The budgie was playing normally when… Read more

North York’s Downsview neighbourhood named after English ‘squire’

September 21, 2023

North York’s northwest “Downsview” neighbourhood got its name from “Downs View,” the farmstead home built in 1844 near Keele and Wilson by an important figure in North York history, John Perkins Bull, like many in the area of British descent. “Downs” is British English for low hills covered in grass,… Read more

North York’s first medical officer of health served 43 years, retiring in 1965

September 1, 2023

When Dr. Carl E. Hill, then 27, was appointed North York’s first medical officer of health in 1922, the year North York became independent from York Township, the population was 6,500 and his staff consisted of himself and a part-time inspector. When he retired 43 years later at age 70… Read more

‘Golden Lion’ roars again on North York Central Library’s fifth floor

July 20, 2023

“Hi, I’m the Golden Lion (capital letters out of respect, please), the life-size venerable gold-painted sculpture that’s the mascot of the North York Historical Society (NYHS). “Columnist Susan Goldenberg loaned me this column space to announce that after many years of wandering, I’m now in permanent residence on the North… Read more

Artist C.W. Jefferys illuminated Canada’s past from Yonge Street home

June 30, 2023

We know what early Canada was like thanks in large measure to C. W. (Charles William) Jefferys, one of Canada’s finest historical artists and a North York homeowner for 29 years. He bought a house at 4111 Yonge St., just north of York Mills and built circa 1833, in 1922… Read more

Toronto’s Don River was a major fur trading route

May 30, 2023

The Don River winding through North York originally had an Indigenous Mississaugas of the Credit name, Wonscotonach (“burning bright point”). It was inspired by the torchlight used to light up the darkness for nighttime spearing of salmon that then filled the river. One of the first things John Graves Simcoe… Read more

Before York University, Black Creek Pioneer Village … there was the Stong family

April 27, 2023

For nearly 140 years, just one family — the Stongs — occupied much of the land that is now the site of the main campus of York University and neighbouring Black Creek Pioneer Village. Stong College, affiliated with York University’s Faculty of Health, points to this past, saying it’s “enriched… Read more

Sod turning ushered in North York’s innovative Don Mills community 70 years ago

April 3, 2023

BY SUSAN GOLDENBERG | NORTH YORK MIRROR March 12 was a historic date in North York’s history. It was 70 years ago, on March 12, 1953, that a sod-turning ceremony was held on farmland in east North York for Don Mills, North America’s first privately funded, master-planned, mixed-use, self-sufficient “new… Read more

North York school was originally a mansion, home to a historically controversial Canadian millionaire and politician

February 25, 2023

BY SUSAN GOLDENBERG | SCARBOROUGH MIRROR FEBUARAY 25, 2023 The Toronto French School at the northwest corner of Lawrence and Bayview avenues in North York originally was “Armadale,” the 22-room abode of one of the most contentious figures in Canada’s history. Sir Clifford Sifton lived there during his waning years… Read more

Mammoth tusk found in North York nearly a century ago donated to ROM collection

January 19, 2023

BY SUSAN GOLDENBERG | SCARBOROUGH MIRROR JAN 19, 2023 In late summer 1926, North York farmer William O’Sullivan was routinely digging in a gravel pit on his property when his spade clanged against something big and hard. A boulder, he probably thought. Was he in for a surprise! It wasn’t… Read more

Sir Sandford Fleming flopped as North York housing developer

December 28, 2022

BY SUSAN GOLDENBERG | SCARBOROUGH MIRROR It’s little known that Sir Sandford Fleming (1827-1915), whose invention of time zones set a universal standard, flopped in his attempt to be a North York housing developer. Fleming also created Canada’s first stick-on postage stamps and was chief construction engineer of the Canadian… Read more

WAYNE FORD

December 5, 2022

Wayne Ford – Teen was convicted for his mom’s 1963 murder March 18, 1963, was the last day Minnie, then 55, was seen alive, writes Susan Goldenberg BY SUSAN GOLDENBERG | NORTH YORK MIRROR On Oct. 16, 1966, two men strolling the beach of Lake Couchiching, in cottage country 140… Read more

Bridges have come and gone on Yonge Street over West Don River

November 29, 2022

BY SUSAN GOLDENBERG | NORTH YORK MIRROR NOV 29, 2022  In the 19th century travelling circuses headed to Ontario’s north from the City of Toronto via a Yonge Street bridge over the West Don River, linking Toronto’s northern end with rural North York. Short, the wood bridge ended south of present… Read more

IBM

October 13, 2022

North York’s transformation from “agrarian” to the “Modern Age” can be said to have begun Friday, June 22, 1951 when International Business Machines’ new Canadian headquarters — on former pasture at the northwest corner of Eglinton and Don Mills — was officially dedicated. The company placed a full-page ad in… Read more

Sunnybrook Farm

September 28, 2022

Sunnybrook park, hospital trace origins to Toronto grocery bag, box baron Sunnybrook Park was Toronto’s largest privately-owned land gift, writes Susan Goldenberg BY SCARBOROUGH MIRRORAUG 31, 2022 UPDATED AUG 31, 2022 North York’s Sunnybrook Park has the distinction of being the largest gift of privately-owned land for a public park in Toronto’s… Read more

Centerpoint Mall

September 7, 2022

Centerpoint Mall’s Americanized spelling still a mystery Mall’s story is representative of North York’s evolution, writes Susan Goldenberg BY SCARBOROUGH MIRROR AUG 3, 2022  Before: Robinson Dairy Farm – Toronto Public Library                              Now: Centerpoint Mall by… Read more

Dunlap Model Farm

August 2, 2022

Mining magnate’s old home now clubhouse for North York golf club BY SUSAN GOLDENBERG | SCARBOROUGH MIRROR Dunlap’s ‘model’ farm had cows serenaded by music, pigs bathed in olive oil, writes Susan Goldenberg       Animals at “Donalda Farm” — established in 1914 by mining magnate, philanthropist, and amateur… Read more

Gamblers Arrested at Jolly Miller

June 22, 2022

Dozens of gamblers arrested in 1935 police raid at North York’s Jolly Miller Tavern ‘Illicit gambling dens flourished in Toronto the Good,’ writes Susan Goldenberg BY SUSAN GOLDENBERG | SCARBOROUGH MIRROR MAY 28, 2022 At 1 a.m., May 23, 1935, police smashed their way into North York’s historic Jolly Miller… Read more

Robert Hicks, first reeve of North York

April 9, 2022

North York turns 100 thanks in no small part to its first reeve, Robert Hicks ‘Fed up, North York wanted to secede,’ writes Susan Goldenberg BY NORTH YORK MIRROR APR 1, 2022 North York marks its 100th anniversary of independence this year so a salute to Robert Franklin Hicks, in… Read more

First Miss Canada Winner in 1946 was from North York

March 1, 2022

Marion Saver received $2,000 worth of merchandise, writes Susan Goldenberg Drum roll, please. On July 4, 1946, at the inaugural Miss Canada beauty pageant, the winner, defeating 58 other contestants, was lovely North Yorker Marion Saver, 21, who credited her victory largely to the rabbit’s foot lucky charm she had… Read more

Windsor's Barb-B-Q on Yonge Street, just north of Sheppard Avenue, was owned by bookie/alleged racketeer Jimmy Windsor, who was gunned down in 1939. - Metroland file photo

Toronto’s First Gangland Murder in 1939 had North York Connection

January 27, 2022

Murder victim owned Windsor’s Barb-B-Q roadhouse on Yonge Street, writes Susan Goldenberg What all the Toronto newspapers called “Toronto’s First Gangland Murder” — the Jan. 7, 1939 shooting death of bookie/alleged racketeer Jimmy Windsor, 46 — had a North York connection. Earlier that day, according to newspaper stories, Jimmy, appearing… Read more

Aggie Hogg's Store and Don Library, circa 1925, on Don Mills Road. - North York Historical Society photo courtesy Toronto Public Library Digital Archive

North York Entrepreneur Aggie Hogg was Ahead of Her Time

January 4, 2022

Don Mills street named in honour of 19th century business owner, writes Susan Goldenberg “Aggie Hogg Gardens,” a short interior street alongside the green space in the middle of the Shops at Don Mills at Lawrence Avenue and Don Mills Road, is named in honour of a notable 19th century… Read more

"Boom town: Architect Raymond Moriyama and North York Mayor Mel Lastman look over model of civic-centre expansion that is expected to spark a development boom," October 4, 1982 (Image by Dick Darrell, courtesy Toronto Public Library under Toronto Star License)

NYHS Remembers Mel Lastman (1933-2021)

December 14, 2021

The North York of today largely is due to Mel Lastman, mayor of North York for a record astounding twenty-five years, 1972-1997. He was in the lead in the transformation from a sleepy Toronto suburb into what he proudly called “downtown uptown.” Born in 1933 in Toronto’s Kensington Market to… Read more

This fleet of small airplanes flew over Toronto in September 1938 and landed at North York's Barker Field so that their pilots could visit the CNE. This photograph is taken prior to take-off in Hamilton. - Toronto Star file photo

Dufferin, Lawrence Business District Used to be Busy North York Airport

December 3, 2021

‘North York’s attraction was its proximity to the then-separate city of Toronto,’ writes Susan Goldenberg Hard to believe perhaps but what is now a business district at Dufferin and Lawrence near the Allen Expressway was a busy airport in the first half of last century. Nameless originally, it became Barker… Read more

E.P. Taylor is shown in October 1973 leading Lord Durham, with jockey Sandy Hawley, to the winner's circle at Woodbine. - Ron Bull/Toronto Star file photo

Famed E.P. Taylor Horse Racing Empire Got its Start in North York

October 30, 2021

Family bequeathed home to Canadian Film Centre One of Canada’s largest-ever horse racing empires got its start in North York at a 10-hectare estate, Windfields, on Bayview Avenue between Lawrence and York Mills streets, owned by legendary Canadian business tycoon and thoroughbred racehorse breeder E.P. Taylor. He bought the land… Read more

The Huron-Wendat Trail, opened in 2013, runs along North York’s Finch Hydro Corridor by a site (known as the Parsons Site) where archeological remains of an ancestral Huron-Wendat village were discovered.

Indigenous Artifacts From as Early as 1300 A.D. Found in North York

October 4, 2021

Susan Goldenberg talks about archeological discovery of Indigenous cultures Indigenous artifacts from as early as 1300 to 1500 A.D. have been discovered in North York by archaeologists in excavation digs. They include fragments of wood palisades, tools made of stone and animal bone, pottery, pipes, and human remains. The one… Read more

Roy Risebrough, long retired in this 1979 photo, in one of his early cases came across a tale of alcohol and drug addiction. - Jeff Goode/Torstar file photo

Long-time North York Police Chief Roy Risebrough Retired Rather Than Amalgamate

August 26, 2021

‘Metro Council wanted to unify police and fire departments,’ writes Susan Goldenberg In April 1953 the Toronto area’s 13 municipalities, including a strongly opposed North York, were amalgamated as Metropolitan Toronto. Each municipality retained autonomy in local matters but services that crossed boundaries became Metro responsibilities — water supply, sewage… Read more

This vintage Model T Ford, circa 1919, from the Craven Foundation Automobile Collection, was converted into a police wagon. Model T Fords were also converted into fire trucks, one of which served as North York’s first vehicle with firefighting capabilities. - Scanned from the Toronto Star

North York’s First Fire Truck was a Converted Model T Ford Car

July 30, 2021

‘The truck was so slow that bicyclists easily passed it,’ writes Susan Goldenberg In North York’s pioneering days firefighting was by water bucket brigade. In 1922, when North York became independent from York township, one of the first actions was to buy the community’s first-ever fire truck, a converted Model… Read more

The Connaught Antitoxin Laboratories and University Farm opened in the Dufferin/Steeles area about a month before this photo was taken in November 1917, producing life-saving serums. - Toronto Star archives photo

Connaught Opened North York Facility to Help First World War Soldiers

July 6, 2021

Laboratories ‘produced life-saving serums against the main war front illnesses,’ writes Susan Goldenberg On rainy Oct. 25, 1917, in the midst of the First World War, a history-making medical event, little remembered today, occurred at the then-undeveloped north end of North York: the formal opening of facilities to produce serums… Read more

Tim Morris, a descendent of the pioneering Toronto family the Cummers, poses for a photo near the corner of Yonge Street and Cummer Avenue in Willowdale in 2017. - Jesse Winter/Toronto Star file photo

What’s With Three Names for One Continuous North York Street

May 31, 2021

Cummer? Drewry? McNicoll? Susan Goldenberg explains Three names for effectively a single approximately 30-kilometre, east-west North York-Scarborough street! Drewry, starting west at Bathurst, becomes Cummer at Yonge, then, McNicoll at Leslie, extending east to Tapscott Road in Scarborough. It’s common for originally separate streets to retain their names despite being… Read more

Aerial view c. 1927 of land east and west of Yonge St. between Burndale Ave. and north of Finch Ave. The airfield is now York Cemetery.

York Cemetery Final Resting Place for Tim Horton, Russia’s Last Imperial Grand Duchess

April 30, 2021

Cemetery began as a big farm in the early 1800s, writes Susan Goldenberg Russia’s last imperial grand duchess, Canadian sports icons, war heroes and broadcasting legends are among those interred at York Cemetery, North York’s largest cemetery, near the North York Civic Centre. It hasn’t always been a cemetery. It… Read more

Antonio Fusillo, the brother of one of the workers who died in the Hoggs Hollow Disaster, is overcome with emotion as he examines Laurie Swim's memorial quilt unveiled at York Mills Subway station, March 17, 2010. - Jim Wilkes/Toronto Star file photo

North York’s Hoggs Hollow Disaster of 1960 Killed 5 Construction Workers

March 29, 2021

Disaster led to major overhaul of labour laws, writes Susan Goldenberg This year marks the 61st anniversary of North York’s terrible “Hoggs Hollow Disaster.” At 6 p.m. on March 17, 1960, twelve young Italian immigrant construction workers in their twenties installing a water main under the Don River at Hoggs… Read more

This photo, from 1912, shows a Toronto and York Radial Railway streetcar on Yonge Street (looking south on Yonge Street at Sherwood Avenue). - Public domain/courtesy of Toronto Public Library

Public Transit Started Rolling in North York in 1828

February 28, 2021

Stage coaches gave way to streetcars in 1890, writes Susan Goldenberg Public transit through North York began in 1828 with stage coaches from Toronto up to Lake Simcoe. Heated, electric streetcars with a smoking section and a speed of 12 miles per hour took over in 1890. The single-track line,… Read more

Telephone exchanges, like this typical one from 1899 with an unidentified operator, were opened in business establishments, stores and even residences. North York got its first exchange in 1925. - Bell Canada Historical Department

North York’s First Phone was its Only One From 1888 Until 1910

January 29, 2021

First telephone exchange opened in 1925, writes Susan Goldenberg It was a step into the modern era when, in 1888, North York general store Lindsay, Francis & Company obtained the first telephone in the then small, mostly rural community. It paid Bell Telephone $100 for a connection to its north… Read more

Oriole Public School in September 1956, Sheppard Ave. E, south side, between Provost Dr. and Old Leslie St. (Photo by James Victor Salmon courtesy Toronto Public Library)

North York’s Last Functioning One-Room Schoolhouse Served for 132 Years

January 5, 2021

Closure paved way to widening of Sheppard Avenue, writes Susan Goldenberg North York has the distinction of having had Toronto’s last functioning one-room little red schoolhouse – Oriole Public School on Sheppard near Leslie, open for 132 years, from 1826 to 1958. There were four buildings over the years. The… Read more

St. John’s rehab in North York. - Dan Pearce/Torstar

St. John’s Rehab is North York’s Oldest Surviving Hospital

December 1, 2020

‘The 30-acre site was purchased for $18,000,’ writes Susan Goldenberg Eighty-seven years ago on Dec. 7, 1933 the cornerstone was laid for St. John’s Rehabilitation Hospital, today North York’s oldest surviving hospital. It was the Toronto area’s first rehabilitation hospital. Previously farmland, the 30-acre site was purchased for $18,000 —… Read more

Lawrence Plaza opened Oct. 29, 1953. - Dan Pearce/Torstar

Lawrence Plaza: Toronto’s First Suburban Shopping Centre Opened in 1953

November 1, 2020

At 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 29, 1953, a huge bang resounded throughout North York, as a cannon was fired at the northwest corner of Lawrence and Bathurst streets. It marked the exuberant official opening of two-storey Lawrence Plaza, Toronto’s first suburban shopping centre, and also then the city’s largest, a… Read more

Main residence at Maryvale, Frank O'Connor's House, North York, in 1949. (Image by unknown photographer, courtesy Toronto Public Library under Toronto Star License)

Frank O’Connor Opened Laura Secord Shops on 100th Anniversary of Event

September 25, 2020

Home bequeathed to De La Salle Christian Brothers, writes Susan Goldenberg “King Candy” lived in North York many years. That’s how self-made millionaire Frank O’Connor, founder and owner of the Laura Secord chocolate stores across Canada and the Fanny Farmer U.S. candy chain, was known. Opened in 1913, the centennial… Read more

"Off to the new science centre are Karl Brown; 5; Sandra Barrese; 5; and Stephanie Brown; 7; on a preview trip of the $30 million provincial Centennial project. The children were entranced with the imposing concrete face of the Raymond Moriyama-designed three-level building." (Photo by Reg Innell courtesy Toronto Public Library under Toronto Star License)

North York’s Ontario Science Centre a $30M Gamble that Paid Off

August 28, 2020

Centre broke new ground by encouraging visitors to ‘please touch’ the exhibits, writes Susan Goldenberg The Ontario Science Centre, 51 years old on Sept. 27, was a $30 million gamble, located in what was then outer North York — remote from downtown Toronto, with a little-known architect and a revolutionary… Read more

CF Fairview is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. - Dan Pearce/Torstar

North York’s Fairview Mall Celebrates Half a Century in Business

August 5, 2020

Mall was northeast Toronto’s first regional shopping centre, writes Susan Goldenberg North York’s Fairview Mall is celebrating its 50-year golden jubilee. The two-level $20 million, then 100-store mall was swamped with shoppers and gawkers when it opened 50 years ago on August 5, 1970. There was a mammoth day-long traffic… Read more

The Golden Lion, front and side, after his recent spa treatment.

The Golden Lion Roars Again!

July 14, 2020

We’re delighted to announce that the Society’s Golden Lion sculpture has received a condition assessment and special treatment by conservator Susan Maltby. In the fall of 2019, surface grime and debris were removed and now he shines again. As a follow-up to our recent post, The Golden Lion: His Own… Read more

Statue of the Golden Lion at Sharon Temple

The Golden Lion: His Own Tale (1960)

July 3, 2020

The handsome life-size golden lion sculpture (c. 1834) from the landmark Golden Lion Hotel, soon to be back on display at North York Central Library, is the emblem of the North York Historical Society. He’s seen and heard a lot in his 185+ years! Back in 1960, when he lived… Read more

Home of Colonel Eric Phillips, date unknown (post-1943). Courtesy Toronto Public Library.

North York General Hospital’s Phillips House had Long Line of Rich Owners

June 25, 2020

‘Phillips made a fortune supplying glass to multi-millionaire Oshawa automaker,’ writes Susan Goldenberg If only the walls at Phillips House, on Buchan Court at Sheppard and Leslie, could talk! Now the child and adolescent mental health services headquarters of North York General Hospital, it has a long, colourful history. Phillips… Read more

Good friends enjoy a lunchtime walk through Edwards Gardens in this file photo from June 2002. - Tannis Toohey/Toronto Star file photo

North York’s Edwards Gardens Named after Millionaire who Cut City Good Deal

June 1, 2020

Businessman Rupert Edwards turned down more lucrative offers from private developers, writes Susan Goldenberg “Grab That Park!” the Toronto Star urged in an Aug. 6, 1955 editorial when millionaire Toronto businessman Rupert Edwards offered to sell his gorgeous 26-acre North York country estate at Leslie and Lawrence to the city… Read more

Intersection of Sheppard Avenue and Yonge Street (northwest corner) in 1953. Photo by James V. Salmon. Courtesy Toronto Public Library.

5-year Manhunt for Suspect in 1947 Murder Ends in North York Intersection

May 9, 2020

North York police tipped off by salesperson at Yonge and Sheppard shoe store, writes Susan Goldenberg On January 8, 1953 after five years on the run, Walter Pavlukoff, a violent Canadian career criminal on the RCMP’s most wanted list for murdering a Vancouver bank manager, was arrested across the country… Read more

Graydon Hall is now an upscale events facility owned by the city of Toronto. - Colin McConnell/Toronto Star file photo

Next to Casa Loma in Toronto, there was Graydon Hall

March 31, 2020

Now owned by the city, Graydon Hall built in 1936 ‘by super-rich Toronto financier Henry Rupert Bain,’ writes Susan Goldenberg With 29 rooms, Graydon Hall — on Graydon Hall Drive south of Highway 401 and Don Mills Road — was once the grandest residence in the Toronto area after, of… Read more

John McKenzie House, located in central North York, was built in 1913. - Ontario Historical Society photo

John McKenzie House is a North York Landmark that was Saved

February 26, 2020

Century-old home is a preservation lesson, writes Susan Goldenberg The saving of historic John McKenzie House at 34 Parkview Ave., built near Yonge Street in 1913 when central North York began to flourish, is a preservation lesson. The house — three storeys, 12 rooms, three bathrooms, stained glass window, electricity… Read more

Roy Risebrough, long retired in this 1979 photo, in one of his early cases came across a tale of alcohol and drug addiction. - Jeff Goode/Torstar file photo

‘A Sordid Story of Drink and Dope’ from North York, 1927

February 4, 2020

North York historian Susan Goldenberg writes about ‘a sensational case that grabbed worldwide attention’ In 1927, while North York’s police department was in its early days, a sensational case occurred that grabbed worldwide attention. On January 2, Chief Roy Risebrough with constables Wilson and Smithson raided a house on Wilson… Read more

Harry Winton bought author Mazo de la Roche's former home in North York, promising to turn a portion of it into a museum. - Toronto Star file photo

Bestselling Author Mazo de la Roche Called North York Home for 6 Years

January 1, 2020

Mansion still standing despite almost being demolished to pave the way for Bayview Avenue At the height of her career, bestselling Canadian author Mazo de la Roche lived in a mansion at the southwest corner of Bayview and Steeles that is still standing today, 80 years later. Her 16-novel soap-opera… Read more

Shown in 1905, William Duncan III's son David Duncan built "Moatfield" c. 1865. The house was relocated in 1986 and is now the David Duncan House restaurant. Courtesy Toronto Public Library.

North York Pioneer William Duncan’s Legacy Lives on in Restaurant

December 2, 2019

“He bought a huge piece of land in 1827 along Sheppard for $3.50 an acre,” writes Susan Goldenberg William Duncan III (1801-1886) was a key figure in the development of the North York neighbourhood of Downsview. From Ireland, he bought a huge piece of land in 1827 along Sheppard between… Read more

Gladys Allison the Driving Force Behind North York Library System

October 31, 2019

The Gladys Allison Building, since torn down, was home to North York’s first permanent library, writes Susan Goldenberg North York’s first permanent centrally located library building, opened Oct. 18, 1959, was called The Gladys Allison Building in honour of North York’s “First Lady of the Library.” Allison was the driving… Read more

Roy Risebrough, North York's first police chief retired in 1957. He's pictured here in 1979. - Jeff Goode/Toronto Star file photo

North York’s First Police Chief Never Carried a Gun

September 26, 2019

‘For a year he was the entire force,’ writes Susan Goldenberg When North York became independent from York Township in 1922, Roy Risebrough, a farmer and leader of the independence movement, was appointed chief of police at $30 a week (equal to $450 today). For a year he was the… Read more

Then North York Mayor James Service examines a new building in his fast growing community. He advocated a name-change for North York. - Boris Spremo/Toronto Star file photo

North York Almost Switched Names to ‘Yonge’ in the 1960s

September 3, 2019

‘A referendum was suggested but not held,’ writes Susan Goldenberg In the late 1960s “Yonge” almost replaced North York as the community’s name and North York briefly had bilingual English/French stop signs. As North York transitioned from rural to urban in the 1960s some people, including then mayor James Service,… Read more

North York's Winnie Roach Leuszler, the first Canadian to swim the English Channel. - Toronto Star file photo

North York Woman First Canadian to Swim English Channel

July 26, 2019

‘Winnie went with only $36,’ writes Susan Goldenberg Aug. 16 will mark the 68th anniversary of North Yorker Winnifred “Winnie” Roach Leuszler, 25, making history as the first Canadian to swim the English Channel. The London, England Daily Mail invited the world’s top 20 swimmers from 10 countries to compete,… Read more

People are seated on verandah of O'Sullivan's Hotel in North York. Patrick O'Sullivan, from Cork, Ireland, and his wife Ann opened the two-storey hotel in 1860. – Toronto Public Library archive

North York Historical Society’s Latest Plaque Commemorates O’Sullivan Hotel

July 3, 2019

Popular landmark opened in 1860, demolished in 1954, writes Susan Goldenberg The North York Historical Society on July 20 will unveil its latest heritage plaque, this time for the O’Sullivan Hotel, a popular North York gathering place for nearly a century. Located at the northwest corner of Old Sheppard Avenue,… Read more

Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson signs autographs for Carol and Ian Bury on Jan. 22, 1965 at the official opening of Newtonbrook Secondary School in the area where Canada's 14th prime minister was born. - Harold Whyte/Toronto Star file photo

Former PM Lester Pearson’s Father a North York Minister

June 5, 2019

Former childhood home turned into ‘the first office skyscraper in the area,’ writes Susan Godenberg Lester Bowles Pearson, Canada’s 14th prime minister (1963-1968) as well as a Nobel Peace Prize winner (1957), was born April 23, 1897, in the Newton Brook Wesleyan Methodist Church manse, 5642 Yonge St. Newton Brook,… Read more

North York’s first movie theatre, the Willow, seen here in a 1963 photo provided by the North York Historical Society, opened in 1948 at Yonge Street and Norton Avenue. - Ted Chirnside photo

North York’s First Movie Theatre Opened on Yonge Street 1948

April 25, 2019

Willow theatre sold in 1987, demolished and replaced with condos, offices North York’s first movie theatre – the Willow, opened June 18, 1948, at Yonge Street and Norton Avenue, between Sheppard and Finch avenues, in the Willowdale area – signified that the community was no longer a rural backwater. The… Read more

Toronto Mayor David Crombie donned a conductor's hat and took the controls of a subway train carrying VIPs to officially open York Mills station. - Fred Ross/Toronto Star file photo

The Subway Comes to North York

March 30, 2019

‘The extension helped transform North York from mainly rural to urban,’ writes Susan Goldenberg March 30 marks two very significant milestones for when the subway finally came to North York. On March 30, 1973 the North Yonge subway extension to York Mills opened, and on March 30, 1974 the Sheppard… Read more

Yorkdale Shopping Centre, the world’s largest enclosed shopping mall of its time, opened in North York on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 1964. - Rick Madonik/Toronto Star file photo

Yorkdale Shopping Centre Opened as World’s Largest Enclosed Shopping Mall

February 28, 2019

‘Yorkdale was regarded as a shopping wonder,’ writes Susan Goldenberg On Wednesday February 26, 1964, Yorkdale Shopping Centre, the world’s largest enclosed shopping mall of its time, opened in North York, attracting a huge crowd of 100,000 people. “It was like the Friday before Christmas,” the Toronto Star wrote. The… Read more

Yonge and Sheppard, looking north, in 1897. - North York Historical Society photo

The Pioneer Life a Hard One and North York No Exception

February 1, 2019

Longest lasting log cabin in area survived 141 years, was demolished in 1956, writes Susan Goldenberg Next time you grumble about electrical, heating or plumbing problems, reflect on the hard life of North York’s pioneers in much of the 1800s. Land was cleared and log-cabin homes built by “bees” —… Read more

Patricia Hart, surrounded by a cheerful crowd, at her 1968 book signing, Gladys Allison Library, North York (Photo: Bill Chambers)

From the Archives: Patricia Hart’s “Pioneering in North York” 1968 Book Signing

January 28, 2019

See Rare Photos of an NYHS Special Event from 50 Years Ago Bill Chambers was a reporter/photographer at the old Willowdale Enterprise newspaper, just before Doug Dempsey sold his stake to the Mirror newspaper. In 1968, Mr. Chambers was on an Enterprise photo assignment covering Patricia Hart’s book signing of… Read more

Prosperous land surveyor David Gibson was part of the Upper Canada Rebellion and was later pardoned. - North York Historical Society photo

North York’s Original Gibson House Torched by Government Soldiers

December 28, 2018

Pardoned for treason, David Gibson rebuilt his home which ‘still stands today, 170 years later,’ writes Susan Goldenberg There are two good reasons to visit Gibson House, North York’s best known historic site, at Park Home and Yonge Street across from the North York Civic Centre, in December. One, the… Read more

Herb Carnegie, in 1987, poses with Flemington Public School students participating in his Future ACES, a program on the fundamentals of living. - Jim Russell/Toronto Star file photo

North Yorker Herb Carnegie a Hockey Trailblazer

December 3, 2018

‘He retired in 1954, then became a successful businessperson and philanthropist,’ writes Susan Goldenberg North Yorker Herb Carnegie was a trailblazer, the first black hockey star, in the 1940s into the early 1950s. Yet, he never made it into the National Hockey League because of his skin colour. The NHL… Read more

‘War Savings Bonds sales were huge in North York,’ recalls Allan Westwood. - Hamilton Spectator file photo

Remembering North York during the Second World War

November 13, 2018

Susan Goldenberg details life on the homefront during wartime Most North Yorkers during the Second World War were of English descent and strongly supported England. “They believed that England was always in the right, that it must be saved, that Canada should be at war because England was in trouble,”… Read more

In the aftermath of Hurricane Hazel in 1954, Etobicoke residents are rescued from the overflowing banks of the Humber River. - Courtesy TRCA

North York Constable Helped Out when Hurricane Hazel Slammed into Etobicoke

October 27, 2018

‘In Ontario 81 people were killed, 35 of them on one street alone,’ says Susan Goldenberg On October 15, 1954 Hurricane Hazel, the most famous and worst hurricane in Canadian history, roared through Toronto, leaving death and destruction in its wake. One of the witnesses was then-North Yorker Brian Weller… Read more

From left, Norman Boyd, Edwin Alonzo Boyd and William Jackson pictured escorted by police in Oct. 1952. - Toronto Star file photo

Where was Boyd Gang in September 1952? Hiding in North York, as it turns out

September 21, 2018

‘A mile north of Leslie and Sheppard they found an abandoned barn far back from the road and moved in,’ writes Susan Goldenberg Something all Canada wanted to know for eight nerve-racking days in September 1952 – where was the Boyd Gang, Canada’s most notorious cop killers, bank robbers and… Read more

Yonge and Sheppard, looking north, in 1897. - North York Historical Society photo

North York’s First Schools — in Newtonbrook and Willowdale — Opened in 1801

August 11, 2018

‘Expenditures were frugal; at one school, $2.50 on repairs for the year,’ writes Susan Goldenberg With the fall school season approaching, it’s a good time to look back at education in North York in its early days. In 1801 the community’s first two schools were opened, one in Newtonbrook and… Read more

Overtaxed and Underserviced, North York Broke Away from Toronto in 1922

June 14, 2018

‘Residents hauled ashes to fill potholes,’ writes Susan Goldenberg What is now North York has been around a very long time. In the early 1920s proof was found that animal life in North York dated back thousands of years when a farmer digging in a pit on his land discovered… Read more

Mazo de la Roche

The Home of Mazo de la Roche, 3950 Bayview Avenue

March 1, 2018

For more than two years, between 1976 and 1978, the fate of the onetime home in North York of Mazo de la Riche, author of the bestselling Jalna books about nineteenth-century Ontario, was fought over by preservationists versus developers. The struggle was as melodramatic in its way as the soap… Read more

Milne House, Edwards Gardens

Fire Destroys Landmark House (Milne House, Edwards Gardens)

November 1, 2017

On November 27, 1962, an important part of North York history was destroyed, when a three-alarm fire swept through the 150-year-old Milne Homestead, a showpiece of the Metro Parks’ Edward Gardens (now the Toronto Botanical Gardens). After being alerted at 1.55 a.m., firefighters from five stations rushed to the scene. They fought to control… Read more

York Mills Presbyterian Church Plaque

Some Interesting Early York Mills Residents

August 1, 2017

Thomas Mercer The Thomas Mercer family drove from Pennsylvania in 1794 in a wagon with a cow tethered behind, and when requesting land Mercer was offered one hundred acres in exchange for his wagon. Cornelius Anderson Cornelius Anderson, with his family of nine children, settled in York Mills around the… Read more

William McDougall

Hon. William McDougall: Father of Confederation

November 1, 2016

William McDougall was born to Daniel McDougall and Hannah Matthews on January 25, 1822 He was raised on his grandfather John McDougall’s farm, lot 4, con.1 west of Yonge which his father acquired in 1826. (The property ran from Yonge to Bathurst and comprised the present-day streets of Glenview, Glengrove… Read more

Swing Bridge Between Robert and James Hogg Farms

The Hogg Family

March 1, 2016

The Hogg family played an influential role in the early days of North York. James Hogg emigrated from Scotland and bought Thomas Arnold’s Mills and farm in 1824. Gradually he extended his holdings and renamed his property York Mills. In 1851, his sons were old enough to take over the… Read more

Taylor Brothers Paper Mill, Don River, east side, south of Pottery Road; watercolour by Owen Staples, 1909 (courtesy Toronto Public Library)

The Taylor Brothers

November 20, 2015

John Taylor, Senior, a Methodist (1773-1868), his wife, Margaret Hawthorne, and seven children emigrated from Uttoxeter, County of Staffordshire, England, in 1821, settling initially in Cherry Valley, near Albany, New York. In 1825 they moved to Vaughan Township in Upper Canada and pioneered there for about nine years before coming… Read more

Patricia Hart, surrounded by a cheerful crowd, at her 1968 book signing, Gladys Allison Library, North York (Photo: Bill Chambers)

The Enterprise: North York’s First Newspaper

May 20, 2015

North York’s first newspaper was founded November 11, 1926 in Willowdale. Called The Enterprise, it was established by Robert Rankin, a printer, and Thomas Osbourne, a linotype operator. They thought the market was ripe for a community paper, as North York transitioned from a rural community to an urban one.… Read more

St Johns York Mills

St. John’s Anglican Church York Mills, 1816-2016

March 1, 2015

The bicentennial is just one year away for St. John’s York Mills Anglican Church, the oldest church in North York and the second oldest in Toronto. The oldest is St. James Cathedral, which is a parish church as well as a cathedral. St. James, at King and Church Streets in… Read more

Ann O'Reilly Road

Heritage Street Names in the North York Community Area: Ann O’Reilly Road

August 13, 2014

2205 Sheppard Avenue East (new development) Ann O’Reilly married Patrick O’Sullivan, and in 1860 they opened a hotel on her father’s property, on the north-west corner of Victoria Park and Sheppard, near the proposed street. Patrick died the following year and his wife carried on the business. Their son, Michael,… Read more

Winnie Roach Leuszler

Willowdale Woman First Canadian to Swim English Channel

August 1, 2014

The recent brave attempt by five women to swim Lake Ontario length-wise by relay, brings back memories of a Willowdale woman, Winnifred “Winnie” Roach Leuszler, who was the first Canadian to swim the English Channel, doing so August 16, 1951. The Daily Mail of London, England, had invited the top… Read more

The golden lion, nicknamed "Henry" by library staff, is now located at North York Central Library (Photo: Sarah McCabe)

Golden Lion Hotel

June 24, 2014

February 2019 Update: The rare and exceptional golden lion sculpture, belonging to the North York Historical Society and on long-term loan to Toronto Public Library at the North York Central Library branch, is currently off view as the library completes renovations. If you’ve been on the sixth floor Canadiana department… Read more

Threshing on west side of Yonge Street, north of the North York Civic Centre, circa 1945. Given to the NYHS by Robert McQuillan.

Tales of Old North York

May 20, 2014

In 1960, long time North York resident, Harold Gray, collected and recounted anecdotes about early North York life. These stories are in the North York Historical Society’s scrapbooks which are currently being integrated into the North York Central Library’s Canadiana Department. Grinding for Tolls: In his grandfather’s time there was… Read more

The 1850 Stong Farmhouse at Keele St. and Steeles Ave. in 1975

Historic Stong Family

January 20, 2014

Stong College, at York University, is named in honour of the loyalist family, whose land provided a significant portion of the university, and of nearby Black Creek Pioneer Village. The college provides courses in liberal arts, health services and creative writing, in what the university describes, as the “enriched pioneer… Read more

John Perkins Bull House, 450 Rustic Road, North York, built 1844, in 1964 photo by Pat Hart (NYHS photo)

Early Downsview Personalities

January 20, 2014

Downsview derives its name from prominent Downsview early settler John Perkins Bull’s farm, Downs View. The Perkins home was the location for many civic activities. After his marriage in 1844, John opened his house for religious services. As a Justice of the Peace for over thirty-five years, he was known… Read more

Charlotte de Grassi's father, Phillipe de Grassi

Cornelia de Grassi and the Upper Canada Rebellion: A Tale of Old North York

September 20, 2013

A thirteen-year-old girl, in acts of derring-do, helped the government side win in the 1837 Upper Canada Rebellion. Cornelia de Grassi was the daughter of Phillipe de Grassi (shown in picture), descendant of a noble Italian family, who settled in what is now the Don Mills-Lawrence Avenue East area, on… Read more

Zion School, S.S. #12, Finch Ave. east of Leslie St., built 1869, photo circa 1890, North York Historical Society photo

Historic Zion Schoolhouse

January 20, 2012

The Schoolhouse is located at 1091 Finch Avenue East, (Ward 33, Don Valley East). It is a designated heritage site under by-law 27974 passed the North York City Council on December 15, 1980. Zion Schoolhouse has been owned by the City of Toronto since amalgamation of the City’s heritage museums… Read more

Gibson House Museum, photo: Sarah McCabe

Gibson House Museum

January 20, 2012

The David Gibson House is located at 5172 Yonge Street (Ward 23 Willowdale). It is a designated heritage site under by-law 27975 passed by North York City Council on December 15, 1980. The Gibson House Museum in North York is a red brick Georgian Revival farmhouse located on land that… Read more