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North York 1927
North York in 1927: Aerial view of land east and west of Yonge Street between Burndale and north of Finch, courtesy Toronto Public Library

Timeline of North York

1796

Yonge Street opened.2

York Mills established as a transfer point for Northwest Company boats. Boats went up the Don River to York Mills then were hauled on wheels to Holland Landing.2

1801

Samuel Heron built a mill at York Mills but went bankrupt two years later.2

1804

Andrew McGlashan emigrated from Scotland and built a log cabin east of Bayview Avenue and north of York Mills Road.2

1815

Andrew McGlashan sold the south half of his property to William Harrison and moved to Hogg’s Hollow where he built North York’s first Tannery of mud bricks.2

1816

St. John’s Anglican Church, the first in North York was opened in a small log building.2

1817

Thomas Arnold, Township assessor, erected a sawmill on the west side of Yonge Street in Hogg’s Hollow. He later built a 3-storey flour mill on the east side of Yonge.2

1824

James Hogg bought the Arnold Mills and more land on the Don River and built a distillery. He called his property York Mills.2

1827

The Toronto Cricket Club was founded.2

1836

A post office was opened at York Mills.2

A little wooden Scottish Presbyterian Church was built in Hogg’s Hollow near Ivor Road and Donino Avenue.2

1837

Cornelius Van Nostrand set up a large grist and sawmill in the valley.2

1838

John Armour bought land on the west side of Yonge from James Hogg.2

1840

Cornelius Van Nostrand converted his mill to steam power. He shipped high quality flour to Great Britain until 1846 when the Corn Laws were repealed.2

1844

Andrew McGlashan Sr. died and Andrew II took over the business and sold the family home to William Goodwin. The house became known as the William Goodwin House.2

1846

Great Britain repealed the Corn Laws.2

1847

The second school in the Hogg’s Hollow area was built on the north-west corner of Yonge and John Streets (now known as Carson Cr.).2

1856

The present Miller Tavern was built after fire destroyed the original tavern. Over the years, it has been known as Hogg’s Inn, Birrell’s Hotel, Carson’s Inn, the York Mills Hotel and The Jolly Miller.2

1859

The York Mills Presbyterian Church built in 1836 was torn down, piece by piece, and rebuilt on two acres of land on the west side of Yonge opposite Mill Street. A burial ground was laid out on the top of the hill.2

1860

The McGlashan Tannery prospered until it was shut down in 1860.2

Robert Gray, York Mills carpenter, built the first of many Millworkers Cottages on John Street.2

1872

William Goodwin died but family members continued to live in the house until ca. 1908.2

1874

A second room was added to the school in Hogg’s Hollow built in 1847.2

1876

Andrew Bathgate bought the McGlashan House. After Andrew was shot in a hunting accident his wife Agnes and son James lived in the house.2

1885

The York Mills Presbyterian congregation joined Barron’s Church and the York Mills church and cemetery fell into disuse.2

1890

The York Mills Presbyterian Church burned down.2

1893

A modern schoolhouse was built on the south side of York Mills Road just east of Yonge Street.2

1895

Mills built by Cornelius Van Nostrand were destroyed by fire.2

1908

John Squire, a caretaker at St. John’s Anglican Church bought the William Goodwin House and lived there until his death in 1931.2

1910

Frederick Burton Robins bought land from John Armour hoping to develop a subdivision of 500 lots.2

1911

Mulholland, Wood and Armour farms were purchased by British developers.2

1913

First Provincial Plowing Match held at Sunnybrook Farm – later became International Plowing Match.1

1914

Strathrobyn was built by Frederick Burton Robins on land purchased from John Armour.2

The outbreak of WW1 put an end to the dreams of developers in the York Mills area.2

1915

WW1

1916

WW1

1917

North York’s first airfield was opened at Armour Heights in 1917 as an air force training school for pilots from Canada and Great Britain.2

WW1

1918

WW1

1919

WW1

1922

Charles W. Jefferys purchased the house in York Mills he had been renting as a summer retreat.2

North York secession from York Township.1

James Bathgate became the Borough of North York’s first treasurer and served until 1931.2

1923 pop. 6,303

Frederick Burton Robins sold 37 lots in the Armour Heights and Ridley Park developments on the opening day of the sale in April.2

Roy Risebrough became chief constable.1

The Municipal Office Building was built.1

Fire destroyed most of the Township records.1

The Armour Heights Subdivision was laid on on the land formerly occupied by the Armour Heights Airfield.2

First fire chief appointed (volunteer).1

1924 pop. 7,187

Small grant for Don Mills Library (1920’s-30’s).1

1925 pop. 8,375

Barker Airfield opened.1

The school built in 1893 burned.2

1926 pop. 8,800

Canadian Legion British Empire Service League (BESL) organized.1

The Enterprise weekly newspaper founded.1

Baron Renfrew School opened. It was a school to serve the Hogg’s Hollow area. It was named for Edward, Prince of Wales who adopted the title Baron Renfrew while touring Canada in 1919. After King Edward abdicated the school was again known as York Mills School.2

North York Township outdoor market opened at city limits on Yonge Street on June 19.2

The Toronto Cricket Club moved into new facilities at Armour Heights.2

1927 pop. 9,006

More classrooms were added to York Mills (Baron Renfrew) School.2

1928 pop. 9,510

De Havilland Aircraft of Canada plant opened.1

Sunnybrook farm deeded to City of Toronto as a park.1

Township School Area established with joint board for schools in York Mills-Willowdale-Newtonbrook.1

North York’s first high school was established.1

Loretto Abbey in Armour Hieghts was built after outgrowing several locations around the city.2

1929 pop. 10,332

Yonge Boulevard bridge was officially opened on January 5 creating a high demand for property in the York Mills area.2

First Hoggs Hollow Bridge and Bayview Avenue bridge completed.1

Depression

1930 pop. 11,006

Depression

Earl Haig High School opened with 300 pupils.1

1931 pop. 12,263

Depression

The O’Keefe Windmill was built on the west side of Yonge in the Hogg’s Holow area.2

North York Township outdoor market moved to old car barns just north of city limits.1

1932 pop. 13,236

Depression

1933 pop. 13,964

Depression

North York defaulted on bonds.1

1934 14,295

Depression

International Plowing Match held at Maryvale Farm (north of Lawrence on west side of Victoria Park).1

1935 pop. 14,600

Depression

North York and many other municipalities put under Provincial Government supervision.1

North York’s first swimming pool opened behind the Jolly Miller Tavern on the banks of the Don.2

1936 pop. 15,464

Depression

1937 pop. 16,006

Depression

North York paid off defaulted bonds and accrued interest by floating a new issue.1

1938 pop. 16,912

Depression

North York did not seize either homes or farms for non-payment of taxes but did seize lots owned by speculators.1

1939 pop. 18,205

Sheppard Ave closed between Dufferin and Keele to expand De Havilland.1

Gladys Allison first attempt to set up bookmobile service dropped because of a gasoline shortage.1

WW2

1940 pop. 20,382

WW2

1941 21,962

North York was released from Provincial Government supervision.1

WW2

1942 pop. 22,953

Fire Department became a full-time professional organization.1

St Edward’s Roman Catholic Church became a parish.1

WW2

1943 pop. 24,528

WW2

1944 pop. 25,100

R.E. Edwards purchased site of the first Alexander Milne woolen mill and began to build Edwards Gardens.1

WW2

1945 pop. 26,432

More classrooms were added to York Mills (Baron Renfrew) School.2

WW2

Lions Club formed.1

Gladys Allison arranged for travelling books to be loaned from Willowdale United Church.1

Strathrobyn was purchased by the Royal Canadian Air Force to be used as a staff training college.2

Central Community Council established to coordinate activities of Ratepayers Associations and other district organizations – later merged with Southern Community Council in Weston area to form North York Community Council.1

1946 pop. 30,114

Sunnybrook purchased by Dept of Veterans’ Affairs.1

First summer playgrounds opened.1

Sunnybrook Veterans’ Hospital opened for armed forces.1

1947 pop. 33,162

Builders had to provide gravel roads in new subdivisions.1

1949 pop. 45,783

Water shortages begin.1

1950 pop. 62,646

Recreation Commission established.1

Memorial Community Hall opened (included one room for a library).1

1951 pop. 80,771

The Barrie Hwy (later 400) finished.1

North York Kiwanis formed.1

1952 pop. 96,717

Rotary Club formed.1

Farmers moved outdoor market to Yonge-Finch as York Farmers Marketing Ltd.1

Section of Hwy 401 west of Yonge was completed.1

1953 110,311

York Farmers Marketing Ltd moved to Thornhill.1

First shopping plaza opened at Lawrence Plaza (corner of Bathurst)-2000 parking spaces – Loblaws – 2 restaurants – 2 banks – 31 retail stores.1

245 apartments built.1

Airfield at De Havilland plant (Downsview Airfield) housed RCAF depot for Eastern Canada.1

Gladys Allison headed Library Planning commission.1

1954 pop. 130,766

Formation of Metropolitan Toronto.1

Dalziel Pennsylvania German bank barn from 1809 opened as museum (later part of Black Creek Pioneer Village).1

Hurricane Hazel1

Baycrest opened.1

First amalgamated Board of Education set up.1

Director of Recreation and Director of Parks set up.1

The swimming pool built in 1935 was destroyed by Hurricane Hazel.2

1955 pop. 148,258

More classrooms were added to York Mills (Baron Renfrew) School.2

The York Mills Presbyterian Church cemetery was closed and the land was expropriated for the widening of Yonge Street.2

Edwards Gardens sold to City of Toronto as a park.1

The Charles W. Jefferys’ House was moved to allow for the widening of Yonge Street.2

Public Library Board appointed.1

First suburban Dept Store (Henry Morgan & Co) opened at Lawrence Plaza.1

1956 pop. 165,544

Widening of Yonge Street was completed.1

Edwards Gardens opened to the public.1

1957 pop. 182,942

All 13 municipal police forces were combined into Metropolitan Force.1

Roy Risebrough retired as chief constable.1

The Mirror newspaper opened in Don Mills.1

Parks and Recreation merged.1

Building height restriction lifted (was 35 ft).1

Metropolitan Toronto and Regional Conservation Authority formed by merger.1

1958 pop. 200,185

Bodies from the York Mills Presbyterian cemetery were re-interred in York Cemetery or Forest Lawn Mausoleum when the rest of the church property was sold for development.2

Water shortages finally end.1

1959 pop. 228,374

Section of Hwy 401 to Bayview completed.1

First permanent Library building opened (Gladys Allison Building).1

The News newspaper opened in Downsview-Weston.1

1960 pop. 247,764

Black Creek Pioneer Village opened.1

North York Historical Society formed.1

Don Mills completed.1

York University formed.1

1961 pop. 260,319

York University moved to Glendon Hall.1

Charles W. Jefferys died.2

1963 pop. 303,577

Section of Don Valley Parkway opened.1

Sheppard Avenue widened for second time and its new high bridge over the valley west of Yonge completed.1

Expansion of Hwy 401 to 12 lanes was begun.1

Japanese Cultural Centre opened in Don Mills.1

1964 pop. 331,113

Yorkdale Shopping Centre opened (indoor mall – 120 stores).1

Northern Dancer won the Kentucky Derby – Preakness and Queen’s Plate.1

Yorkdale News newspaper began.1

1965 pop. 359,721

York University main campus was opened.1

Section of Spadina Expressway (401 to Lawrence) was opened.1

1966 pop. 382,792

Sunnybrook Veterans’ Hospital opened to the public.1

1967 pop. 411,517

North York became a borough.1

1968 pop. 425,016

Comfort Lodge opened.1

Ontario Science Centre opened (architect Raymond Moriyama).1

1969

The Enterprise newspaper closed.1

1973

Mel Lastman elected Mayor.

York Mills subway station opened.

1974

Sheppard and Finch Subway stations opened.

1979

North York incorporated as a city.

1980

Arthur Tunnell, publisher of “Who’s Who in Canada” died after living in the William Goodwin House for almost 40 years.2

1981

Yonge Street was to be widened and the William Goodwin House was threatened with demolition. Just ten hours before it was to be demolished the Ontario Field Naturalists bought it for $1 and had it moved to their property on Leslie Street, beside the 401. It is recognized as the oldest existing house in North York.2

1982

York Mills (Baron Renfrew) School was closed and eventually occupied by the Metropolitan Toronto Separate School Board.2

1986

The Millworkers Cottages were moved to a site on Yonge Street and were transformed into The Auberge du Pommier Restaurant.2

1987

North York Centre subway station opened.

The Auberge du Pommier Restaurant opened.2

1998

North York amalgamated into Toronto.

2002

Yonge-Sheppard subway line opened.

2005

Don Mills subway station opened.

2008

Propane facility explosion.


Sources:

1. Hart, Patricia W. Pioneering in North York: A History of the Borough. Toronto: General Publishing Company Ltd., 1968.

2. Hopkins, Jeanne. York Mills Heights: Looking Back. Toronto: York Mills Heights Association, 1998.

Compiled by Bill Aird, Past President, North York Historical Society