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 property. John and William opened a subdivision called Hogg’s Hollow, and James, the youngest son, became a miller.
John Hogg owned extensive property on both sides of the Don River. The first house on his property was constructed of wood and burned down about 1881, when the stove pipe came apart on the second floor. Hogg was alerted to the fire in an unusual way. Hams had been hung on ropes to season near the upstairs stove pipe, so upon smelling smoke and hearing the hams fall to the floor above, Hogg knew his house was on fire.
The first school in the area, built in 1837, was situated on his property, on the east side of Don Independent Road, now known as Don Mills Road, but when a new school was opened in 1853, he turned the old one into a stable. He built a frame general store south of the school location, and became postmaster when the Don Post Office opened in 1868. Later his daughter, Agnes (“Aggie”) Hogg, operated a new brick general store and post office, which also housed the first Don Mills library. It was a hub of community activity. Teachers often boarded with the Hoggs who lived in the building. The Hoggs were a very musical family. One son, Robert, played the cello; James the violin and other members of the family sang.
John and his wife lived over the store during the last years of their life. Robert farmed the half of the farm east of the Don River and James operated the west half. A swing bridge was built over the Don around 1890 for convenience.
Youngsters flocked to Aggie’s store for sweets. North York resident, Harold Gray, nostalgically recalled those days in 1966. “I spent many a copper and dime in Aggie’s store when I was a boy. You could get a couple of Bull’s Eyes or a colored sugar stick for 1¢, or when Gordon Duncan, Milton Johnson or myself had a dime, that meant a large bottle of pop for the three of us. Aggie must have had a lot of patience. She might be back in the house, or out in the yard when the store bell rang, and have to come in for some darn kid with a copper to spend. Aggie may have been burning up but she never complained.”
Aggie Hogg’s name lives on today: Aggie Hogg Gardens at the Shops at Don Mills.
Written and researched by Susan Goldenberg, Director, North York Historical Society
Originally published in the March-May 2016 North York Historical Society Newsletter