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Community Names

Scarborough Community Names

(click name to see historical outline)

Agincourt   
Armadale     
Bendale            
Birch Cliff 
Ellesmere  
Highland Creek     
Hillside   
L'Amoreaux 
Malvern        
Milliken              
Port Union      
Scarborough
Junction 
Scarborough Village
West Hill     
Wexford      
Woburn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ellesmere

A Brief Sketch

Scarborough's earliest communities were established during the 19th century along the roads frequented by stage coaches and around the popular intersections where general stores and the like sprang up.  Later, as the railways came to Scarborough, communities grew up around the train stations.  Some villages prospered as a result of the railways, some declined and others simply merged to form larger communities.  A sign of a growing community was the establishment of a post office in the area.

Several of the early communities of Scarborough share their history with other municipalities.  O'Sullivan's Corners and L'Amoreaux were located on the border between Scarborough and what is now North York. Similarly, the communities of Armadale and Milliken stretched across the boundaries of Scarborough and Markham.


Agincourt

The history of the name Agincourt in Scarborough dates back to June 1, 1858, when John Hill was granted a post office outlet for his general store.  It appears Mr. Hill had been trying, without success, to obtain a post office to enhance his business. 

At a time when Canada West (Ontario) and Canada East (Quebec) were in political conflict, Hill was visiting a friend who was a member of parliament from Canada East.  The desirability of a post office was mentioned.  His friend offered to assist if the post office was given a French name.  The name Agincourt, after a town in northern France, proved to satisfy his French-Canadian friend, yet not offend Hill's English and Scottish neighbours in Scarborough.  History recalls that it was at Agincourt in France, where King Henry V of England defeated the French in a famous 1415 battle!

Agincourt grew slowly at first, centred around what is now Brimley Road and Sheppard Avenue East.  By the late 1860's, Hill's General Store, Milne's sawmill and the Sons of Temperance Hall flourished at the tiny crossroad community.  The building of the first Agincourt railway station in 1871 meant an increase in access to transportation, a growth in population and a shift in the community centre westward along Main Street (now Sheppard Avenue) to Church Street (now Midland Avenue.)  By 1884 the community had been blessed with two railways, the Toronto Nipissing/Grand Trunk/CNR line running north and south midway between Kennedy Road and Midland Avenue and the Ontario and Quebec/CPR line running diagonally through the community just east of Midland Ave.  

The congregation of Knox Presbyterian Church, which had built a small frame structure in 1848, grew in numbers and in 1872 built a new brick edifice to serve the community.  The church and its cemetery still stand at Midland and Sheppard Avenues. 

A new store was built adjacent to the church and for many years was operated by the Kennedy family.  By the turn of the century, Agincourt had become the largest community in the township and continued to prosper right into the 20th century. 

A telephone exchange was established in 1903, Scarborough's first full fledged bank, a branch of the Metropolitan Bank, opened in 1906, Paget and Hay's Hardware store and tin smith operated by 1912, at the same time as the community built Heather Hall Skating and Curling Club adjacent to land which served as the Scarborough Agricultural Society's Fair Grounds. 

About 1912, the community was incorporated as the police village of Agincourt, somewhat of a misnomer as its status had very little to do with police officers.  A Board of Trustees raised funds for local improvements such as Hydro, curbs and sidewalks and generally managed local affairs. 


Armadale

The least known of the northern boundary communities, was a little hamlet located at Markham Road and Steeles Avenue.  Closely associated with the village of Malvern, Armadale consisted of a Free Methodist Church (1880), a blacksmith shop, a brick making yard, several farms, a general store operated by the Beare Family and a Temperance Hotel and Tavern.

The Armadale Free Methodist Church is a designated historic site.  Francis Underwood transferred the land to the church for $1.00 and a board and batten building was erected in 1880, using largely volunteer labour.  The Church has the distinction of being the oldest continuing Free Methodist place of worship in Canada.

The community's name started off as Magdala, when Robert Harrington applied for the post office in 1869, but the name was not accepted and the post office became known as Armadale.  John Stonehouse, Simon Dumond, and finally John Beare served as postmasters until rural mail delivery was introduced in 1917 and the office closed.  In Scarborough the name Armadale, whose origin goes back to the village of Armadale in Scotland, has been all but forgotten.


Bendale  (Benlomond)

About 1799, David Thomson and his brother Andrew, built log homes on their 100 acre properties on the banks of the Highland Creek.  Neither structure has survived, but David's son William built a fieldstone house in 1848, just north of the creek.  To differentiate between himself and a cousin also named William, David's son became known as 'Stonehouse Willie'. His house, renovated early in the 20th century, still stands at number 1 St. Andrew's Road at Brimley.  Andrew's son James built a brick house in 1840 overlooking a field and spring-fed creek.  He became known locally as 'Springfield Jimmie'.  A daughter, Agnes married the famed Alexander Muir, composer of the Maple Leaf Forever.  Springfield Farmhouse is located just west of McCowan Road on the north side of St. Andrew's Road. 

Between the two Thomson homes, on the south side of St. Andrew's Road, stand St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, the sexton's house, and the Scarborough Centennial Memorial Library.  All five of these 19th century buildings have been designated under the terms of the Ontario Heritage Act. 

In 1819, on land donated by the Thomson family, St. Andrew's Church was erected, to be replaced in 1848 by the present brick church.  The church's cemetery has burial monuments of many of Scarborough's early settlers including many of the Thomsons.  Nearby the church,  Scarborough's first public library was founded in 1834.  The original frame library building was replaced in 1896 as a Centennial project.  The old Canadian Northern Railway bisected the Thomson farms from 1910 to 1917 when the line went bankrupt.  Parts of the old railway right of way and its embankment can still be found in the area. 

The community was initially given the Scottish name Benlomond, in 1878, when a post office opened on the south west corner of what is now Lawrence Avenue and McCowan Road, in William Forfar's General Store.  However, as that name was already in use elsewhere, in close proximity to Scarborough, the post office was formally renamed Bendale in 1881.  The name refers to the topography of the area, the hills and valley which make up this part of Scarborough.  A major business in the area was John P. Wheler's Grist and Saw Mill, on Bellamy Road just south of Lawrence Avenue. 

While the post office closed in 1913 as rural mail delivery was introduced to Scarborough, the name Bendale has been used in three schools, a library, a church, a senior citizens apartment and several businesses, as well as the Bendale and North Bendale communities.  

The southern part of David and Mary Thomson's farm now form a permanent community facility known as Thomson Memorial Park to honour their contributions.  Located within the park is the Scarborough Historical Museum  comprised of historic homes which help tell the universal tale of the immigrant experience in a new land.  


Birch Cliff

The many birch trees on John Stark's property on the Scarborough Bluffs are said to have prompted the name Birch Cliff for his cottage there.  When the post office was established in A.H. Mitchell's store in May of 1908, the name Birch Cliff was chosen to serve as the community's name as well.  Birch Cliff is located in the south west section of Scarborough along Kingston Road westward from Birchmount Road.  A few country homes along the bluffs and the Victoria Park recreation facilities were all that made up the area in the 19th century.  After the building of the radial streetcar line from Toronto and its eventual extension to West Hill in 1906, the community took root.  Therefore, it is essentially a 20th century community.  The trustees of School Section # 15, established to serve the Birch Cliff community, erected the area's first school in 1915.  The original building, enlarged several times since, still serves the young people of the area and is one of the oldest school buildings still in regular use. 

As the community expanded, Scarborough Council moved its meeting location from Woburn to Birch Cliff in 1922 and for the next 25 years, the general business of the old township was conducted from the area, including the township's Public Utilities and Water Works.  As Scarborough grew during the early part of the 20th century, Birch Cliff was home to the township's first Dominion Store, first Canadian Tire Store, and first local newspaper, the News/Advertiser, founded in 1921.  Unfortunately few copies of this weekly paper have survived. They would surely tell us more about the history of Birch Cliff. 


Ellesmere

The community of Ellesmere was located at the crossroads of Kennedy Road and the 2nd Concession Road (Ellesmere Road).  Many older citizens looking back to Scarborough's Sesquicentennial in 1946 may recall Kennedy and Ellesmere as dirt roads leading past market gardens and dairy farms.  Kennedy Road was named after the pioneer family who settled on boths sides of the road near Agincourt.  Elesmere Road was named after the quiet little village, Ellesmere, which was formally established with a post office in 1853.  The name was borrowed from Ellesmere, England which is situated near the border of Wales, just south of Liverpool.

When pioneer settlers first arrived in Scarborough, many of the Crown grants were held by individuals who did not live on the land but were willing to sell.  Entire farms could be bought for the equivalent of $13. and folklore from the old village tells of one area pioneer who traded his riding boots for a hundred acre farm at Ellesmere.  The land around what is now the intersection of Kennedy Road and Ellesmere was rich and fertile with large stands of virgin timber, mostly pine and maple.  Three families share in the historical development of the community:  the Forfars, Glendinnings and the Loveless families.  All arrived in  the 1820's and built fieldstone homes on their 100 acre properties. 

Archibald Glendinning built his home on the south west corner of the Kennedy /Ellesmere intersection.  He established the community's first store in the front room of the house, and later became Ellesmere's first postmaster.  His fieldstone home, believed to have been built about 1830 survived for more than 150 years.

The Forfars occupied the north east corner of the same intersection.  They ran the village blacksmith shop and, with the help of James Ley, also became famous throught Ontario for their fine waggons, cutters and sleighs.  Early in the 20th century, David Forfar operated a butcher shop at Ellesmere. 

Robert Loveless acquired the north west corner of the village intersection and was instrumental in establishing the Free Methodist Church in a small white frame building near the intersection.   The church was built in 1877 but the congregation relocated to Armadale a few years later.  The Loveless family members were notable dairy farmers and, at different agricultural fairs, won many prizes for their cattle. 

Ellesmere Village was the site of School Section # 5 and until a large frame school was built in 1871 on Ellesmere Road west of Kennedy, the school children of the area used a brick school which was built in 1848 at Ellesmere and Midland.  What happened to the old brick school and why the community replaced a brick school with one of wood-frame construction are unknown.  Fire is always a concern with wooden buildings and it was, perhaps, not surprising that the 1871 frame school was gutted by fire in 1946. 

Ellesmere was also known for its recreational activities.  All three pioneer Ellesmere families were well represented on the local sports clubs, including the Ellesmere Central Football club which won the Ontario Championships in 1890.  In addition, the Ellesmere Brass Band and the Maple Leaf Curling Club called the Ellesmere Arena their home.  The large wood -frame structure was first erected in 1878, collapsed in 1881, but was rebuilt two years later and survived until 1913 when the huge structure was dismantled and moved to the Agincourt Fair Grounds. 

As with other small communities, Ellesmere began to decline after the second railway went through Agincourt in 1884.  From the 19th century community of Ellesmere today's communities of Dorset Park, part of Wexford, and Maryvale developed.  All of the major 19th century structures have been demolished and only the name Ellesmere remains to remind us of the history of this quiet, crossroad community.


Highland Creek

 Although the Thomson family can arguably be considered the first family to settle in the old Township, and the first post office was opened at Scarborough Village, the first true 'community' to be established was at Highland Creek.  The community originally stretched from the Pickering border west to Galloway Road.  Prior to any settlement, Elizabeth Simcoe, in describing the Township of Glasgow (as Scarborough was first called), referred to the "high lands of Toronto".  The river flowing through the high land became known as the Highland Creek. 

William Knowles emigrating from New Jersey in 1802, was forced to stop near what is now Grimsby where his wife gave birth to their eighth child.  Knowles moved on ahead and in October, 1802 bought a 200 acre lot from Joseph Ketchum who had settled in the area of Highland Creek a few years earlier.  Family stories handed down through the generations indicated that Knowles was expecting a house with the land but found only a roofless log shanty.  His first days in Scarborough may well have been spent under the tall pines. 

Knowles was a blacksmith and built the Township's first smithy, making the nails for the first frame barn in Scarborough and planting one of the first orchards.  His son, Daniel, kept the first store in Highland Creek, was a Commissioner for the straightening of Kingston Road in 1837 and was a prominent member of the Scarborough, Markham and Pickering Wharf Company which did an excellent business in shipping grain, timber and cord wood from Port Union to Oswego, New York and other Lake Ontario ports. 

The combination of the Kingston Road, the old Danforth Road and the Highland Creek coming together in one location encouraged the village's rapid growth in the early 19th century.  Saw millers, grist millers, cobblers, merchants, coopers, tanners, blacksmiths, ship builders, and a host of other tradesmen helped build the community and in time it boasted churches from all major denominations including the first Roman Catholic Church (St. Joseph's) and the first Anglican Church (St. Margaret's) in Scarborough. 

The community's first school serving what was then known as School Section # 7, was erected in 1844 on the west side of the Highland Creek Valley, but a new, larger frame school was erected in the valley in 1870.  As the community grew after the turn of the century, a new brick school was built in 1918 and became known as Highland Creek Public School.  As of 2003, it was still standing, as one of the oldest school buildings in Scarborough still in use as a regular public school. 


Hillside

School Section # 4 was established in 1847 but there was no school in the community until a small frame one was built in 1853 at Finch Avenue and Meadowvale Road.  This early school was replaced in 1872 with a frame building, since moved, bricked over and renovated to serve today as an Outdoor Science School.  The community was named after a lovely gothic homestead, known as Hillside, built on the side of the hill of the Rouge Valley by the local miller, William Milne.  The community of Hillside was closely associated with Malvern, Highland Creek and Cedar Grove in Markham.  Hillside had a Methodist Church, built in 1877 at Finch Avenue and Reesor Road but was never formally given a post office designation. Business in the community was centred around the Milne Saw Mill at Sewell's Road and Old Finch Avenue which was in operation until about 1929 when the last of the standing timber was auctioned off.  Hillside today is still very much a rural community with the Toronto Zoo and the Rouge Valley Park, its main attractions. 


L'Amoreaux

L'amoreaux developed mainly along Finch Avenue west of Birchmount Road and included most of the north west section of Scarborough between Sheppard and Steeles.

The community was named after a French Huguenot family, United Empire Loyalists who came to Canada following the American Revolution and settled in Scarborough around 1816.  Early settlers in the area, in addition to the L'Amoreaux, included the families of Mason, Christie, Snider, Morgan, Clark, O'Sullivan and Vradenburgh, as well as others who settled in the northwest corner of the township.

In 1847 School Section #1 was established in L'Amoreaux.  In 1854 L'Amoreaux opened a post office in James Taylor's General Store.  The L'Amoreaux General Store and Post Office operated on the York (now North York) side of the town line, but it served the Scarborough residents as well, since 'community' boundaries were flexible.  In 1906 the store and post office was operated by the Kennedy family.  Other prominent postmasters at L'Amoreaux include:  James Taylor, William Nash and Alf Mason.

Blacksmith shops were operated by Richardson, Staunton and Ley, a waggon shop was established by Wright and a (window) sash factory once thrived on the southwest corner of what is now Sheppard and Pharmacy Avenues.  St. Paul's (Anglican) Church was established  in 1840, followed by Christie's Methodist in 1846.

After 1927, Harry C. Hatch built a quarter mile covered race track at L'Amoreaux and between 1936 and 1945 bred five King's Plate winners, using the indoor track throughout the year to train the horses.  


Malvern Village

Prior to 1850, the intersection of the Lansing Road (now Sheppard Avenue) and Markham Road was known as Malcolm's Corners.  John and Robert Malcolm operated the Speed the Plough Inn and a harness shop adjacent to their home on the southwest corner of the intersection.  Later known as Malvern, the community also included the neighbouring farming community north of what is now the 401 and east from Bellamy Road to the Rouge River. 

Senator David Reesor saw future potential at this major crossroad community and acquired land on the northeast corner.  In 1857, Reesor registered a plan of subdivision and advertised 50 foot by 150 foot residential lots, proclaiming that "by its being in the centre of Scarborough, Malvern Village will form the capital, where business of the township must be, in time, mainly transacted".  Reesor carefully chose the name for 'his' village, naming after the popular town of Malvern in England where the pure water was said to cure the sick.  Reesor had learned from local residents that similar medicinal waters existed nearby. 

Reesor's plan for Malvern in Scarborough included:  a grammar school (which was never built), a church (built in 1864), Wyper's boot and harness shop, a fair ground and a large community hall.  The hall, known for more than a century as Mammoth Hall was first built in the 1860s but was gutted by fire and rebuilt in 1879.  A large multipurpose, two storey frame building, it had a curling rink at ground level, and a meeting and dance hall upstairs.  The Hall was used for political meetings and community events right into the 20th century.  Former Canadian Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier spoke to large gatherings here on more than one occasion during his campaigning in ther early 1900s. Fire again struck Mammoth Hall in 1988 when the century old designated historic landmark was destroyed by arson. 

Malvern had one church, a Primitive Methodist Church built in 1864.  Demolished in the 1970s the wainscotting and flooring from the church were reused on the interior of the Kennedy Discovery Gallery at the Scarborough Historical Museum.

For many years there were at least two general stores, operated by a succession of merchants including: Duncan Malcolm, William Burton, Smith Thomson, John Lowther, George Baxter, William and David Purdie, Edmund Jacques, John Lennox and William Cowan.  In addition to Mammoth Hall, Wyper's Harness shop, the church and the general stores, the village also included blacksmith shops, a waggon shop, a large woollen factory (operated by the Badgerow family on Sheppard Avenue east of Markham Road), and two hotels, Thomson's Temperance Hotel and Callender Standard Hotel.  Malvern was also home to the Scarborough Independent Telephone Company's switchboard. 

In 1856 a post office was established at Brown's Corners, Finch Avenue and Markham Road, but was relocated in 1865 to Smith Thomson's Temperance Hotel and General Store in the village where it remained until the building was destroyed by fire in 1929.  It reopened in Cowan's store in 1930 and remained there until 1956. 

School Section # 3, which served the northern part of the community, was established in 1847 and operated until 1851 from an old log school where Alexander Muir began his teaching career.  A frame school was built on the Stirling farm in 1851 and it was replaced in 1872 by a one room red brick structure which still stands, and in 2003 was operating as a private school.  However, the children of Malvern village were required to walk over a mile and a half to reach this school, certainly not what Senator Reesor would have planned back in 1857.

Business was good in Malvern until the 1880s when a second railway was built through the neighbouring community of Agincourt, encouraging the development of that community.  Business revived slightly in 1911 when the Canadian Northern Railway built a station at Malvern but the railway went bankrupt in 1917 and although taken over by Canadian National, passenger traffice ceased by 1926.  Today, medicinal springs are just a memory, as are the church, the railway, the general stores, the hotels, the harness shop (which was moved to the Markham Museum and restored), and Mammoth Hall.

In the 1950s, a new Malvern began to take shape.  Vast amounts of farmland north east of the old historic village were expropriated and eventually transformed into a densely populated and thriving modern community.  New schools, shopping centres, industry and recreational facilities have seen the new Malvern develop far beyond the dreams of Senator Reesor more than a century earlier. 


Milliken 

Milliken was named after a local family headed by Norm Milliken, a United Empire Loyalist from New Brunswick, who settled on Lot 1 Concession V, Markham in 1807.  Norm Milliken operated a lumbering business in the area as well as the local hotel.  Descendants of the family continue to live in the area.

As the Kennedy Road in Scarborough ended at Steeles, and the Markham Concession Road continued northward about a quarter mile east, both separated by the Toronto Nipissing Railway, Milliken was not the typical crossroad community.

The post office, established in 1859, stood on the Markham side of the town line but served both townships.  The local church, known as Ebenezer, began on the Scarborough side of Steeles but moved across the road into Markham in 1878 where it still stands today.  The early families: Milliken, Thomson, Rennie, Harding, Hood, Hagerman and L'Amoreaux could be found on both sides of the Town Line.

To the Milliken community, municipal boundaries were just lines on a map and the community's history can be found in the Archives of both Scarborough and Markham.  School Section # 2 was established here in 1847, and a log school was built during the same year. 


Port Union / West Rouge

Port Union was also part of the Highland Creek community.  (Although most of the buildings were across the Town Line in Pickering.)   Port Union was located in the south east corner of Scarborough, at Lawrence Avenue and Port Union Road.  In 1865 a post office opened in Port Union Station.  Early 19th century businesses in the area included the Scarborough, Markham, and Pickering Wharf Company (est. 1847), and hotels operated by Will Hetherington and Thomas Laskey.

  The West Rouge community, a modern name associated with Port Union, was originally part of Pickering.  Scarborough annexed the West Rouge in 1973 following several years of negotiations.  There were concerns about meshing taxation and other costs to the municipality that had to be addressed following the initial annexation discussions in 1969.   The West Rouge was east of the town line and west of the Rouge River containing 857 acres and a population of 3,414 at the time of annexation.


Scarborough Junction  (Strangford & Mortlake)

Strangford Post Office opened in 1863 at Moffat's Corners, now the intersection of Victoria Park and St. Clair. 

The name was likely given by the local Irish settlers, the name taken from a small town south of Belfast, Ireland in Northern Ireland. The Post Office closed ten years later when Scarborough Junction was established. Both the post office and the  community  name  have  long  since  been  forgotten.

Mortlake P.O. opened in 1865 in the Halfway House Hotel at what is now Midland Avenue and Kingston Road. Named after the English hamlet outside London, the post office closed in 1872 when Scarborough Junction was established. Although the community now carries the name Cliffside, the Halfway House was not forgotten.   Having served Scarborough for more than a century, the hotel was dismantled in 1962, moved and rebuilt as the focal point of Black Creek Pioneer Village.  Today, a walk through the doors of the hotel is like a step back into Scarborough's 19th century.

Business in the Scarborough Junction area began with the establishment of hotels along Scarborough Junction’s main roads: the “Farmer’s Inn” on Kennedy Road at Danforth Road,  and the “Halfway House Hotel” on the north west corner of Midland Avenue and Kingston Road.   After the two railways were built (1856, 1873), Scarborough Junction began to focus more of its business on the railway.

 The community officially became Scarborough Junction after a second railway was built through the community in 1873.  That same year the Scarborough Junction P.O.  was opened in Bell’s store on the south-west corner of Kennedy Road and St. Clair Avenue.   The store was later acquired by the Everest family who took advantage of the proximity of the railways, to develop one of the largest general merchant businesses in the Township. 

Everest’s Store & PO 

School Section #10 was established in 1847 and in 1850 a frame school was built for the children of the community to attend, later to be replaced by a brick building in 1870.  In 1900 a two-room, two-storey school was built on Kennedy Road, just south of Danforth Road  because the community was growing rapidly. When two more rooms were added in 1906 the Junction School became the largest public school in the Township at that time.

Scarborough Junction was also one of the first areas in Scarborough to develop residential communities, with the construction of houses on “side streets” as early as 1900.  After the Second World War the residential communities grew even more rapidly, as hundreds of Veteran’s homes were erected, and new industries were set up in and around the community.  Scarborough Junction was ideal for development, one reason being that travelling in and out, and around the village was quite easy due to its two railways, and its major arterial roads (Kennedy Road, Danforth Road, and Kingston Road to the south).

One of Scarborough Junction’s early churches was Bethel  Methodist Church on the south east corner of Kennedy Road .and Eglinton. Avenue.  The only evidence of it that remains is its cemetery.    This cemetery was recently taken over by the Scarborough Historical Society as another of their special projects as they strive “to preserve, study and stimulate an interest in the history of Scarborough.”

  The small hamlet of Moffat’s Corners became closely united with Scarborough Junction after 1873.  Located in western Scarborough at St. Clair and Victoria Park Avenues, Moffat’s Corners nearest school was the one in Scarborough Junction, in School Section #10.  Although the Strangford P.O. operated here for ten years, during the 19th century,  the community’s only real  business was Alex.  Moffat’s  “Royal Oak”  Tavern.


Scarborough Village

One of Scarborough’s early communities was Scarborough Village.  In 1832 it became home to the first post office in the Township of Scarborough. The village was laid out as a subdivision in 1856 and a school was built within the planned subdivision in 1860.  The community was centred around Markham Road and Eglinton Avenue and included the surrounding farm land, from Lake Ontario to the Highland Creek river and west to McCowan Road.  School Section #9 was established in the community in 1847, and a frame school located on Markham Road south of Kingston Road  served the area until the brick building was built in the village in 1860.  In 1913, a new Scarborough Village Public School was erected on the same site. The old 1860 structure was dismantled and the bricks reused to construct a nearby house.  One of community’s churches was Washington Methodist Church.  Although the original 1838 and replacement 1885 churches have been demolished, the cemetery remains on Scarborough Golf Club Road, south of Kingston Road.  The local Anglican congregation built Christ Church in 1846 but the beautiful Gothic style frame building was destroyed by fire in 1918.  A replacement, erected in 1921 was dismantled in 1936 and rebuilt at its current location on Markham Road where it continues to  serve  the  community.

Scarborough Village developed as a result of the horse and buggy traffic on Kingston Road and northward along Markham Road.  The early businesses that would have been found in this area included Gates’ “Scarboro Inn,” Baird’s Hotel , Chester’s General Store, a blacksmith and waggon shop.  With the coming of the Grand Trunk Railway in 1856, small businesses began to suffer because the traffic along Kingston Road began to decline.  Yesterday’s Scarborough Village community includes modern day Scarborough Village, Guildwood , and parts of Cliffcrest.


West Hill  - Corktown

  The use of the name West Hill spread rapidly during the 1950’s and 60’s years, even erroneously extending to the east side of the valley.  Historically, the community is more accurately part of Highland Creek, although the area does have its own unique history.

  After potato crop failures in Ireland in the mid 1840’s, thousands of Irish emigrated from the famine sweeping their homeland and came to settle in Canada.  Many came to Scarborough, settling in Wexford and Highland Creek.  Having little money and few trade skills, hardworking Irishmen, many from Cork County Ireland,  found employment as labourers building the Grand Truck Railway through southern Scarborough in 1856.  A number of Irish immigrants built small, two-room cottages along what is now Morningside Avenue and the area became known as “Corktown.”

  The geographic name of West Hill was the preferred name when John Richardson, an Irishman himself, was successful in obtaining a post office, in 1879, for the area on the west side of the valley.   Highland Creek was now divided.

In West Hill, near Manse Road, where the local school and a Methodist church were located, there were three general stores.  One was operated by the Duncan family, another by Durnford and a third, perhaps the best known, was Eade’s.   Nearby once stood  the West Hill Hotel,  built in 1910 to serve the growing traffic along the Kingston Road highway.   West Hill really began developing after 1906 when the radial streetcar line was extended to the area.   Radial cars, running on tracks laid along Kingston Road to Victoria Park, could quickly transport residents of West Hill (Stop  45, later Stop 35) to the city limits.

Some friendly rivalry developed over the years between the residents of the West Hill and Highland Creek.   When a new school was proposed for School Section # 7, it was decided to erect the building on the east side, not very appealing to those living in West Hill.   The school section was divided and after Highland Creek School (S.S. # 7) opened in 1918, plans were immediately begun for a new school in West Hill (now School Section # 16).   The school was finally completed by 1920  but was demolished and replaced with a new building in 1995.

As Scarborough celebrated its Bicentennial, both Highland Creek and West Hill were recognized community names, separated by the river valley which gave the combined community its original name more than 200 years ago.

 


 Wexford

In the early days of Scarboro’s history many small villages grew up around the major intersections were there was perhaps a blacksmith, a church or a tavern. Such was the case in Wexford. The community of Wexford,  took its name from Wexford County, Ireland.  Wexford is located in western Scarborough at Lawrence and Pharmacy Avenue, and included the surrounding farm land which ran east to Birchmount Road and south to Eglinton Avenue.  Prior to Confederation, Wexford was little more than a crossroad community of several farms, a couple of small frame churches and a tavern.   The community had begun during the 1840’s when Richard Sylvester opened the inn or tavern, known as “The Rising Sun Inn” on the north-east corner of what is now Lawrence and Pharmacy Avenues. The building was later moved to the south-west corner of the intersection but demolished about 1883 when John Tingle built a new General Store on the site.  A small blacksmith shop was also located just south of the Tingle general store.

 In 1848 the Anglicans of the community built a small white frame church known as St. Jude’s near what is now the south-east corner of Lawrence Avenue and Victoria Park. The local Methodists had already constructed a small log building known as Twaddle’s Chapel, which later became Zion Wexford just east of  Warden Avenue on the north side of Lawrence Avenue.  Another early church was the Wexford Wesleyan Methodist Church on the south side of Lawrence Avenue just east of Victoria Park Avenue. It was sold to the Roman Catholics and became  Precious Blood Catholic Church. It was demolished when the present Catholic Church was erected.

School Section #8 was established near Wexford in 1847. A brick school was built the same year but was later replaced by a larger school built in 1863 at Eglinton and Birchmount, at which Alexander Muir , composer of ‘The Maple Leaf Forever’  once taught.

This area was known as Hough’s Corners and the school became known as the Hough School.  Wexford youngsters had to walk almost two miles to attend either Ellesmere or Hough schools.

Like most early 19th century communities, a proper name was seldom used until a post office was established.  In 1865, the community became officially known as Wexford when James McBeath opened a post office in his little store on the south side of Concession Road just east of the York-Scarborough Town Line.

 While the railways certainly assisted in the development of certain communities, such as Agincourt and Scarborough Junction, the CPR line built through Wexford in 1887 appears to have had little impact.  A small station  was located at Wexford to provide for passenger and mail pick up but the station appears to have seen little activity and was not replaced after  it was destroyed by fire in 1933.

Wexford became a sports centre in 1922 when an old airplane hangar was moved from Armour Heights to the northeast corner of the intersection. From then until the arena was gutted by fire in April 1951, thousands of youngsters began their hockey careers at Wexford.  The building was the home of the original Wexford Hockey League.

  Many of the landmarks of old Wexford have gone. Modern reminders of  this small part of Scarborough’s history included the Wexford Hockey League, Wexford C.I. and Wexford Public School. As well, the churches St. Jude’s (1848) the oldest church building in Scarborough,  Zion Wexford United Church (1876) and the name Wexford still remained.   The area that was the old community of Wexford includes the modern communities of Wexford, Ionview and the Golden Mile.


Woburn / Elderslie

The documented history of Scarborough changed in January, 1850 when Scarborough was formally incorporated as a Township with its own elected government and Reeve.  The first community names  to be officially recognized were Scarborough, Highland Creek and “Elderslie”.   What happened to Elderslie is one of the many little mysteries we find in Scarborough’s history.

 Prior to 1850, Scarborough was governed by the Home District Council - a political district taking in the area around Toronto. The old township was represented by two Councillors, one elected each year for a two year term.  In 1850, the township was incorporated and five Councillors were elected annually to deal with local municipal affairs. They met at Dowswell’s Inn at the intersection of Markham  and Old Danforth Road.

 On Jan. 16th, 1850, following the Township’s first municipal election, William Chamberlain wrote a circular which read, in part:  “On perusing the Municipal Acts, I observe that...it devolves on me as the Town Clerk to appoint the place where the first meeting of the newly elected Municipality shall be held.  In obedience to which, I beg to inform you that I appoint Mr. Thomas Dowswell’s Tavern as the place of meeting at the hour of ten o’clock a.m.. on Monday next the 21st instant...”.   When the five Councillors met, there was no reference to any community name.  Dowswell’s hotel was located in a place with no name.

 For the next two years, Council continued to meet at Dowswell’s Inn, on the Markham Road, near the present intersection of Painted Post Road.  On an early map, the hotel was also called  the “Central Inn” as it was located at the geographic centre of the Township. This was likely the reason why Chamberlain chose the location for the first meeting of Council.  However, the crossroad community still had no official name.

 Research uncovered the fact that, until 1852, all Scarborough mail was delivered to the Township’s only post office, located in a small general store near the intersection of Kingston Road and Markham Road.  Realizing the need to improve communications among the newly established local government, its citizens and other townships, and perhaps for some economic gain, Dowswell successfully applied for the establishment of a new post office to be located in his hotel. At the same time the citizens of Highland Creek also applied for full post office recognition.  The only problem with Dowswell’s application was that the community surrounding his Inn where Council met, was still unnamed.   The name “Elderslie” was chosen, which originated from a town in Scotland, near Glasgow.  The name Elderslie was  dropped in November, 1856 in favour of Woburn.  While no official reason for the change is known, the name Woburn comes from a small town in England just north of London, a few miles from where Dowswell grew up before immigrating to Canada in 1831.

Thomas Dowswell died in 1857 and his hotel was demolished about 1956, but the name Woburn, a fitting tribute to the township’s British roots,  has survived and is still associated with two schools, several medical centres and a co-op housing village around the original Woburn community area.  

Woburn, the area of Scarborough once known as School Section No. 6,  includes the area west of Galloway Rd, east of Brimley Rd., south of Ellesmere and north of the creek which flows through Cedarbrook and Thomson Parks near Lawrence Avenue. As Scarborough entered the 20th century, Woburn remained rural while the southwest corner of the township grew rapidly. Councillors were still being paid less than $100 a year and met in the weather beaten old hall at Woburn.

In 1922, Council decided to move closer to the population at Birch Cliff and the old hall was put up for sale. Unfortunately, on February 7, 1927, the hall was destroyed by fire and Scarborough lost one of its historic landmarks. It was believed the fire was deliberately set to cover up the murder of Albert Fisher, the hotel owner at the time.

The significance of the community of Woburn is, in some respects, greater than all other communities of 19th century Scarborough. However, a lone chestnut tree and a historic monument erected in 1975 by the Scarborough Historical Society are all that  remain to tell us about the community that was the centre of the old township’s government for more than 75 years.