|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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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 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.
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
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
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 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
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.
Union / West Rouge
Union was also part of the Highland Creek community.
(Although most of the buildings were across the Town Line in
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
the community is more accurately part of Highland Creek, although
the area does have its own unique history.
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.”
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’
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.
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
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.
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
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
area that was the old community of Wexford includes the modern
communities of Wexford, Ionview and the Golden Mile.
Woburn / Elderslie
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.