Lumber Yards from Mud Roads and Plank Sidewalks Part 13


Just east of Pape, on the north side of the Kingston Road was situated Martin McKee’s residence, lumber yard and planing mill. He had one of the first telephones in the district. He employed quite a number of men, and was well known and highly respected.

Goad's map 1890

McKee photo

McKee House

It is said, that sometimes small incidents will be remembered long after those of more importance are forgotten. As an example, on dozens of occasions I have stood in the boiler room of the planing mill, just a short distance from the large flat driving belt, and held out my hand just a few inches from it, watching the sparks of electricity jumping from my finger tips to the belt.  Don’t ask me what caused it, I do not know.

Planing Mill NWT

Milne lumber mill

A mile stone was just outside the lumber yard on the Kingston Road, stating “two miles to Petley and Petley at the Market.”

Milestone France

There were two frame cottages just east of the lumber yard on the Kingston Road, and I heard that Alexander Muir lived for some time in one of them. These cottages were eventually taken over by the lumber yard and used for storage of their finer lumber. An elm tree grew outside these cottages and it was the tallest and largest tree in the district. It was cut down only a few years ago.

Muir cottage

Another saw mill was on the Kingston Road west of Pape Avenue on the north side. It was not well known, and was in the path of the rising water of the creek every Spring. Once or twice it was flooded, and eventually it was closed.

Hastings and Peterkin

Kingston Road was still a country road, and in the marsh at the corner of Pape and the Kingston Road garter and the occasional black snake were still to be found.

House in Marsh


Chewitt map 1802

BLACKSMITH SHOPS from Mud Roads & Plank Sidewalks Part 12

The Village Blacksmith 1888 TPL 4

Illustration from Henry Wordsworth Longfellow, The Village Blacksmith. London: Castell Brothers, between 1888 and 1892? From The Toronto Public Library Digital Archives.

From Mud Roads and Plank Sidewalks Part 10

By Samuel Herbert (1876-1866)

Now we will go from Grocery stores to Blacksmith shops and Saw Mills.


The postal village of Ashport (later called Leslieville) grew up around the tollbooth at Leslie Street and Queen Street East (then called the Kingston Road). Ashport had a steam saw mill, a cooperage (barrel-making shop), and, most importantly, a blacksmith and a tavern. The last two were the bare essentials of village life. There were very few brick stores before 1870 and most shops started as simple log cabins like this one.  This is the old blacksmith shop on Francis Ballantyne’s farm near Smith’s Fall’s, 1889-1916. The man in the picture is Elliott Ballantyne. Credit: Photograph is attributed to James Ballantyne/Library and Archives Canada/PA-127113

Blacksmith shops were still one of the industries in every community.

Richmond's Blacksmith Shop 1912 TPL

Another early Toronto blacksmith shop. Richmond’s Blacksmith Shop, Queen St. W., north-east corner Simcoe St. By Frederic Victor Poole, 1912. From The Toronto Public Library Digital Archives.

18800831 GL Bright blacksmith Kingston Road

One of the first blacksmith shop’s in the east end was Bright’s at Broadview and Queen. Blacksmith’s were the “man caves” of the period where men could relax with a quiet tipple and pipe and tell yarns. George Leslie, a sociable man, liked to meet his friends in Bright’s blacksmith shop in Riverside. Globe, August 31, 1880



18790909GL Carriage Blacksmith Leslieville

The toll booth was a place to stop to change horses, get something to eat or have a rest. So stage coach stops like Uncle Tom’s Cabin and later the Duke of York, were built along with stables for the horses.  Horse shoes needed replacement or repair so McLatchie’s blacksmith shop opened where Nash family had a garage for many years near Queen and Leslie. Many blacksmith shop’s became garages. Another is at Knox and Queen (southwest corner). Many garages later became strip malls since housing was rarely built on the sites due to the expense of re-mediating the soil beneath them. Globe, September 9, 1879

Nash's Texaco.jpg

Queen Street looking east at Jones. Nash’s Garage was the Texaco Station on the right at the south-east corner of Queen and Rushbrooke.

18830628 GL William Mason ad

William Mason advertisement for a Horse-shoer and General Blacksmith, Globe, June 18, 1883

“Billy” Mason, an uncle of mine, had a well-established business just east of Logan Avenue on the north side of the Kingston Road. It was up-to-date in every particular. I used to visit it quite often, and can still recall the odour of a burning horse’s hoof as an almost red-hot shoe was fitted, then a little more hammering on the anvil, and then the shoe plunged in a half barrel of water to cool, and it was ready. A large bellows worked by hand kept the fire at any temperature required.

To see blacksmiths at work go to

Morrison and Bolton had a blacksmith shop further east on the same side of the Kingston Road, just about where Boston Avenue is now. Mr. Morrison was a specialist on the very fine light shoes worn by racehorses and pacers, and in his spare time made fancy small picture frames, with these fine shoes. They were quite a novelty.

Campbell, Murdoch Blacksmith 1900 TPL

Murdoch Campbell’s Blacksmith Shop, Dawe’s Road, east side, south of Danforth Avenue, 1900. Photographer unknown. From The Toronto Public Library Digital Archives.

James Maunder had a blacksmith shop and waggon works on the south side of the Kingston Road near Leslie Street. The building is still standing though altered.

19410319 GM James Maunder obit

James Maunder’s blacksmith shop is no longer standing. Globe and Mail, March 19, 1941

Bob Watton

“One of the last blacksmiths in Toronto hasn’t shod a horse in seven years; but that suits 78-year-old Bob Watton just fine. I don’t miss horses a bit; he says.” Photo by Frank Teskey, 1970. Reproduced under a Toronto Star License. Credit: The Toronto Public Library Digital Archives.

Look for the next installment next week: Sawmills

Grocery Store from Mud Roads & Plank Sidewalks Part 11


In 1889, my father and mother died within the year, and the executor of the small estate invited me to live with him.


Recreation of an advertisement based on similar ads in Toronto directories of the same decade.

He kept a grocery store at the north-east corner of Queen and Pape, and had a thriving business.


Looking west on Queen Street from east of Pape Avenue. On the left is the fence around George Leslie’s arboretum and nursery. The Dulmage store was at 1048 Queen Street East – the north east corner of Queen and Pape. Fonds 1231, Item 1206 Queen Street east of Pape Avenue November 12, 1913 City of Toronto Archives

The store was up to date in every way for that period. I would say that about sixty per cent of the business was on a credit basis, not the kind of iron clad credit as carried on to-day, but more of a “we trust you” idea and what dire results sometimes followed for the grocer. A customer would run up a bill of fifteen or twenty dollars, and then pay a few dollars on account, and then order groceries for the family for another week or so. When payment was requested the customer might be quite insulted, and pay a few dollars on account for a week or so and then quit altogether.

4I think the grocer could have papered a room with the unpaid bills on his books.  The hours were long, in the summer from about six thirty in the morning until 9 or 9.30 at night.


Woodgreen Methodist (United) Church, Queen St. E., s.w. corner Strange St. Photographer unknown Picture, 188-, Toronto Public Library

The grocer was a good living man, attended the Methodist Church, and Sunday was really Sunday. He held family worship once a day, and while I did not realize it at the time, this had an effect on my life in later years.


City of Toronto Archives Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 984 Man in horse drawn buggy Date unknown

We lived at the back and above the store. The horse stable was in the yard almost adjoining the house. The grocer always had a good horse for delivery, and gave it the best of care. Taking it all in all, it was a good wholesome home to live in.


In the winter deliveries were often done by sleigh. This is the proverbial “one horse open sleigh”. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 989 Man on horse drawn sleigh Date unknown

He had a good country trade, and once a week would go over the rounds with a horse and buggy, soliciting orders, and once when the roads were very bad he travelled on horseback. He had about thirty customers on this route. That evening was a busy time for everyone in the store filling the orders, re-checking them and packing the boxes. They would be delivered the following day.


William Dulmage and his wife and son would have worked in a store like this along with Sam Herbert. This was not self serve but counter service. The Interior of grocery store Archives of Ontario Cobourg, Ontario 1910

On certain clays of the week, farmers and small country store keepers came to the city selling butter, eggs, and other farm products. One person, a storekeeper, came from Frenchman’s Bay. He kept a general store and Post Office, and generally brought one or two Sugar barrels containing different churnings of butter, some almost white, others richly coloured, and some almost normal. These rolls would weigh from about seven pounds to nineteen or twenty pounds each, and wrapped separately in cheese cloth.  Some had the regular 1 oz. of salt to the pound, and others less.  This was inserted in the butter, turned around and drawn out. Then passed under the nose at a respectful distance, and the quality and texture of the butter could be determined. The borer with the butter was then replaced, and the butter smoothed over. The same method was employed for testing tub butter.


As time passed women became less and less satisfied with having their minds “made up for them”. Canadian Grocer, Vol. XXXII, No. 14, April 5, 1918

A general valuation would be placed on the contents of the barrel, perhaps fifteen or sixteen cents a pound, then the bargaining commenced. Finally, an agreement was reached, and the deal closed. The butter would then be weighed. Later on it would be graded, some as cooking butter at about sixteen cents a pound, and the better quality perhaps at twenty-two cents a pound. Sometimes a roll would be cut to oblige a customer, and again with the larger rolls of good quality one would be cut up and packed in small wooden moulds containing about a pound. When the butter was pushed out of the mould it was of the same size and shape as the pound block sold to-day. This was then wrapped in fancy paper and sold for perhaps twenty-five cents a pound.


The interior of another Ontario grocery store. Guillet and Son, Archives of Ontario 2 King Street East, Cobourg 1910

Tubs of butter came in about fifty-pound wooden containers, and cheesecloth placed on top, and about a half inch of coarse salt spread over it. When the tub was to be used, the salt was taken off the top and the tub upended, small end at the top, and tapped all round until the butter loosened from the tub, and the tub lifted off. A three-foot length of steel wire with the ends secured around two pieces of broom handle about four inches long gave the means for cutting the butter evenly. This was place d in a “U” position on the outside of the butter and pulled through. The butter could then be cut in any desired quantity. Often in the cold weather, one end of the ”butter counter” would have two or three tubs of butter which had been cut in half and quarter rounds, and looked very attractive.


Library and Archives Canada 1880 First Butter from Australia. 1926-1934 London, Dunstable and Watford, England


Blocks of butter ready for wrapping on a table on a Canadian farm, early 20th century.


Candling eggs, from The Lady’s Friend, 1865

Eggs brought from the country were always “candled.” An opening the size of a large egg was cut in a piece of tin, and the tin boxed round, the top covered, and the back of the box had hinges. A lighted candle was placed inside. The only light in the room would be that coming through the hole in the box. The egg candler would then seat himself facing the light and have a full crate of eggs on one side and an empty crate on the other. He was trained so that he could tell at a glance by holding the egg against the light whether it was good, bad, or indifferent. It was a kind of x-ray operation.

Farmers had been known in those days, when gathering eggs for the market to include a setting of eggs if one were found, even though partly hatched, hence the necessity of candling.


The Canadian Grocer and General Storekeeper, Vol. IV, No. 1, January 3, 1890

White and brown sugar was purchased by the barrel, and when needed was rolled into place behind the counter, and opened. Flour was handled much the same way, but later it came already packed in stone and half stone bags.

Black and green tea were purchased in large square lead-lined chests. Orange Pekoe came in a much smaller package, also Gun Powder tea, the leaves rolled quite small. Blending tea was the grocer’s harvest. The retail price might start at twenty-five cents a pound, and go in progressive steps up as high as sixty-five or seventy cents a pound, sometimes, according to the customer. I think P.C. Larkin was the first firm to introduce package tea in Toronto – their still famous “Salada” Tea. Gradually, packaged tea took the place of the old tea chests, and the grocer’s special blend of tea.


Canadian Grocer, Vol. XXXII, No. 14, April 5, 1918

During the winter months dried salt codfish and an oblong box of Finnan Haddie were usually placed outside the store entrance, and there was often a covered bucket of oysters there as well. The oysters were sold by the pint or quart. A bundle of a dozen brooms, tied securely, and placed handle ends down, outside the door, was also quite common, and there might also be a sign outside announcing, “Granulated Sugar, 22 pounds for a dollar.” Of course this was a cost price “come along” item.

After school one afternoon, I was in the store parcelling up sugar, when the little girl who used to visit us when Mother was alive, walked into the store.  Of course, we were both older, and she was prettier than ever. She said they were living near the store, and we had quite a long chat. I met her quite often after that.

Now, coming back to the store, let me describe the interior. Broken sweet biscuits came in large wooden boxes, and were a staple article, they sold at, I think, twelve cents a pound. They were the better kind of Christies biscuits, Jams Jams, Sultanas, and others that I can’t just recall. The three-pound blue carton of Christies Soda Biscuits sold for twenty-five cents a carton. Sunlight Soap came in large wire-bound wooden boxes direct from Port Sunlight in England, there were three twin bars to a carton.

Tilted on the floor were boxes of soap, such brands as “Morse’s Mottled” “Surprise”, Morton’s N.P. in large bars, a photo of Sir John Macdonald was on the wrapper, and the N.P. stood for National Policy. It was a reputed three-pound bar, and the thrifty housewife would cut it in thick slices and let it dry out. It lasted longer that way. Also, tilted on the floor would be a box of “Pyles Pearline” in packages, the forerunner of the many detergents we have to-day. There would also be a keg of washing soda, sold by the pound.


The Canadian Grocer and General Storekeeper, Vol. IV, No. 1, January 3, 1890

Hanging on the wall at the rear of the store were wooden wash tubs of various sizes, and a half dozen zinc-faced wooden wash boards.

Behind the counter were two rows of square drawers, containing Allspice, Cloves, Ground Cloves, W. Pepper, B. Pepper, Nutmegs, Mustard, Cinnamon, etc.


The Canadian Grocer and General Storekeeper, Vol. IV, No. 1, January 3, 1890

On the counter was a two-wheel coffee mill. As a rule, coffee was ground fresh for the customers. Along the counter was the Cheese container– a large square screened box with a door. The cheese was also cut with a wire.


It looked like the cheddar cheese industry of Ontario would go the way of the passenger pigeon as large multinationals flooded the market in the 1970s with bland, flavourless cheeses and “processed cheese products” that many of us used to dump in the high school cafeteria garbage pail. The revolting products may have helped engender a taste for true cheddar and other true craft cheeses. The old cheese maker of Plum Hollow; Claude Flood; 73; warns the end of small cheese factories will mean the end to first-quality Canadian cheddar. Ontario’s small cheese factories are being strangled into extinction by new regulations and dwindling milk supplies. Barkley, Harold Picture, 1971 Toronto Star License Toronto Public Library

The large barrels of Molasses and Syrup were on a small platform about ten inches above the floor in order for the measures to be placed under the taps, and. the saying “as slow as Molasses in January” carried out a meaning not known to-day.


Canadian Grocer, Vol. XXXII, No. 14, April 5, 1918 In the First World War the Allies needed lead for bullets and so other metals were substituted for lead for bottle caps and jar lids. Canadian Grocer, Vol. XXXII, No. 14, April 5, 1918

Near the window was a large curved glass, walnut show case, which was the “Notion” section of the store.

Inside the case at the back were mirrors in the sliding doors which reflected the goods at the back. The case contained celluloid collars, paper collars, in round boxes, papers of pins, small packages of needles, cough candies in packages, small rolls of lace, spools of thread, hair oil in fancy bottles, round boxes of caps for toy pistols, knitting needles, combs, bottles of ink, collar buttons, etc.


Even a decade or more after Loblaw’s introduced the “Groceteria” or self-service grocery store, most of its competitors still onlyoffered counter service. City of Toronto Archives Fonds 1266, Item 16198 Dominion store, 213 Wellesley St, grocery section April 15, 1929

On the wooden ledge on top of the show case would be displayed glass jars containing candy barley sticks, “Bulls eyes” candy balls, Rock candy, conversation lozenges, and a cardboard box of “grab bags” each filled with assorted candy, and containing a “prize” – price, one cent. There was a smaller box of chocolate cigars, with some sparkling red material at the end, to imitate a lighted cigar.

Then some round popcorn balls with an elastic cord attached, and I must not forget the box of licorice imitation plugs of chewing tobacco, complete with a tin stamp in the centre.


Shows cart of James Matthews, Toronto Steam Power Soda Water Factory. Soda pop was extremely popular and offered a “soft” drink as opposed to “hard liquor”. In background: Wesley Methodist (United) Church, Dundas St. W., n.w. corner Ossington Ave. Unknown Picture, 1875, English Notes Library has (image not reversed) ½ plate glass copy negative (E 9-86) and copy photo (E 4-42f). Shows cart of James Matthews, Toronto Steam Power Soda Water Factory. TEC 125 Toronto Public Library

A local character used to saunter into the store about four thirty every afternoon, just about the time I would be returning from school. He would pass the time of day to us all, and then go over to the broken biscuit box, take out a handful of biscuits and stand eating them.  When the biscuits were eaten he would go to the Refrigerator, take a bottle of sarsaparilla, open it and when finished return the empty bottle, bid us good-day and walk out–never offering [to pay].


Jalap was a powerful plant-based purgative (Ipomoea purga) and could be slipped into a bottle like these without the prospective buyer knowing … until a bit later. Toronto Public Library Touch of antiquity: The Bottles And Crowns exhibit; devoted to the history of the soft drink industry will feature some of the 1;000 different bottle stoppers patented in the last century and older-style soft drinks bottles. Innell, Reg Picture, 1981, English Rights and Licenses Toronto Star License

The storekeeper did not comment on it very much, but one or two the others thought it had gone far enough, so ways and means were discussed. As all pop bottles at that time were of the spring cap variety, a bottle could be opened and sealed up again and no one would know. Someone came up with the idea of “doctoring” the sarsaparilla. This was carried unanimously. Some jalap was secured, and parts of the contents of the bottle taken out, and the jalap put in to take its place.  The contents well shaken in order to mix it up. The next day it was placed in the ice box right at the front, each one notified not to sell that particular bottle. Everything ”went according to plan”, at the usual time our friend appeared, helped himself to the biscuits and sarsaparilla. He did not co me into the store for several days, but he came back and had some biscuits. He was asked if he had been away, his answer was “No” but he had an upset stomach, and a touch of “the summer complaint.” His visits were not quite so frequent and finally they stopped altogether.


During the Christmas season the store windows were really a picture. The centre piece was usually a barrel of dried currants with the side staves and top removed. This would be decorated with holly, mistletoe, coloured paper and flanked with raisins in boxes of various sizes. Candied orange, citron, and lemon peel in halves would add to the decoration. Striped candy walking sticks were hung wherever possible, and a “Merry Christmas” sign would be stretched across the window. It was not until years after with a growing population that the “Xmas” signs began to appear.

Background: More about Christmas back in the day


A store decorated with hanging coloured paper, Christmas 1902 Toronto Public Library


Special trains hauled Christmas trees into the city where grocers sold them to the neighbourhood. Train with Christmas trees, date unknown, Library and Archives Canada


Eating was a huge part of the Victorian Christmas. The Canadian Illustrated Mews [Vol. 24, no. 27 (Dec. 31, 1881)] Good Housekeeping, Vol. 6, No. 3, December, 10, 1887


The home cook book compiled from recipes contributed by ladies of Toronto and other cities and towns. Toronto : Belford Brothers, 1877. At head of title: Tried, tested, proved. “Published for the benefit of the Hospital for Sick Children”. 1910 Making Christmas Pudding, City of Toronto Archives

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Eaton’s and Simpson’s Department Stores were the first real competition to the local grocery store. Illustrated Toronto, the Queen city of Canada: its past, present and future, its growth, its resources, its commerce, its manufactures, its financial interests, its public institutions, and its prospects, 1890. Toronto : Acme Pub. and Engraving Co.


One of the first Loblaw’s stores was at the corner of Logan and Queen. It offered the liberated woman of the 1920’s the option of choosing her own purchases, paying for them in cash and taking them home herself rather than having a grocer pick out products, pack them and deliver them later that day.


Detail from City of Toronto Archives, Series 71, s0071-lt10221 Queen St. at Logan Ave. looking east April. 5/1934 A Dominion Store Branch on the north side of Queen East of Logan Avenue facing a Loblaw’s Groceteria on the south side of the same street.

The Great War brought death but also accelerated change, bringing new technology & new ways of doing things. Chain stores began to replace small stores. Self-serve began to replace counter services for groceries, dry goods & even hardware. It was no longer men behind the counters serving women, but women serving themselves. In 1919 Dominion Stores incorporated. That year a new Loblaw’s Store opened at Queen & Logan. Loblaw’s with its experimental “We Sell For Less” cash-and-carry format, quickly became popular.  After the War to End All Wars. Canada saw itself differently. The men who returned were not the same and the women they returned to had  also changed in unexpected ways.


Grocery shopping is increasingly done on line as is Christmas shopping, spelling a big challenge for grocery chains.


1881-1886 Snowshoeing Christmas Card, Library and Archives Canada



PIGEON AND SPARROW SHOOTS From Mud Roads and Plank Sidewalks Part 10

live pigeons


From Mud Roads and Plank Sidewalks Part 10

By Samuel Herbert (1876-1866)

The Stanley Gun Club held regular Pigeon and Sparrow shoot in Stark’s Athletic Grounds, about opposite McGee Street, south of Eastern Avenue where commercial industries are now located.

19001123GL Stark Athletic Grounds shooting match

The old Stark Athletic Grounds Globe, Nov. 23, 1900


Detail Goad’s Atlas 1899 Added “Stark’s Athletic Grounds”

Its members came from different parts of the city, mostly from the east end, and the sport was very popular. Old residents who were ardent shooters have passed on years ago and many keen matches were shot out with money wagered on both sides.


One match that stands out clearly in my memory was between two well known prominent residents of the east end. There was light snow on the ground, and the match was “miss and out”.

Forest and Stream. v.36 Feb. 19, 1891

Forest and Stream. v. 36 Feb. 19, 1891


Twenty-four birds had been killed by each of the contestants.


Pigeon Match – Trap Shooting by Henry Downes Miles. The Book of Field Sports. London, Henry Lea, c. 1870

It was getting late in the afternoon and a little snow on the ground. Visibility was poor. A white pigeon was placed surreptitiously in one of the traps, and when the word “pull” was given, the pigeon was just faintly discernable.

White pigeonThe contestant fired and knocked it down. The other side demanded he “gather his bird inside the line”, this he did and went back to his position on the firing line making a twenty-five straight. The other contestant fired, and missed his bird, my relative winning the match.

There was hilarity in the winner’s home that evening, and the winner later on had the white pigeon stuffed and mounted in a glass case which hung on the wall of his living room. He always relished telling how the pigeon won him the match and a challenge cup as well.


The cost of pigeons for shooting purposes was twenty-five cents. Each of the contestants kept all the birds they shot. Many a pigeon pie was the reward from these matches in Stark’s grounds.

18921205 Toronto Daily Mail Shooting Grounds HP Davies

Toronto Daily Mail, December 5, 1892

Sometimes in the early evening one could see persons going stealthily with a long bamboo fishing rod which had a small net attached to the end. They were snaring sparrows from the eaves and other parts of the house and buildings.


The sparrows were later sold to the gun club for sparrow shoots. Light snow on the ground was always a help, and if I remember correctly, the traps were placed about ten yards from the firing line.  Number ten shot was generally used. Sparrow shoots were less expensive than for pigeons, and were well patronized.


18930227 GL Sparrows Stark's

53 birds without a miss Globe, Feb. 27, 1893

redwinged blackbird

Red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phœniceus). From New York Public Library Digital Collections

Forest and Stream. v. 39, Aug. 4, 1892 Aug 4

Forest and Stream, v. 39, Aug. 4, 1892

18651118 GL Pigeon shoot

‘Tis good sport, we presume: but is it right? Globe, November 18, 1865







Mystery of the Hanging Cat of Greenwood & Queen

Cartoon by Charles Jameson Grant, 1833

Mystery of the Hanging Cat of Greenwood & Queen

Once long ago, above the door of a tavern at the northwest corner of Kingston Road and Greenwood’s lane, there hung a sign. Now, most taverns had signs but this one was different. Forty years after the tavern closed people still remembered the sign described below.

19230817 GL Puritan Tavern sign hanged cat

Globe, August 17, 1923

rectoWhy would the innkeeper have such a macabre image outside the Puritan tavern? That is the mystery I set out to solve.

First I had to find the back story of the Greenwoods who owned the Puritan Tavern.

John Greenwood was born in 1822 in England. He married Anna or Anne Lowe and they had three children together. Their son Joseph (1845-1933) was born on December 7, 1845, in Leicester, Leicestershire, England. They lived in Hinckley, just outside Leicester, where John Greenwood was a carriage maker, but not just any kind of carriage maker. He made Hansom cabs. Joseph Hansom, invented the hansom cab in Hinckley in 1834.


Hansom Cab

Not long after the Greenwoods moved to Derby. Derby became an important centre as the Derby Carriage and Wagon Works, founded in 1840, hired wagon makers to make rolling stock for the railways.  Another major carriage maker was the firm of Herbert and Arthur Holmes, Coach and Harness Makers of Derby, Lichfield and London (Journal of the Society of Arts, July 11, 1856, p. 592).

The Greenwood’s son William was born in 1847 in Derby. Their daughter Elizabeth (1849-1932) was born on October 23, 1849, also in Derby. Their daughter Susanna (1850-1867) was born there in 1850. His wife Anna Lowe (1817–1852) passed away in 1852 back in Hinckley, Leicestershire, England, at the age of 35.

John Greenwood married Catharine Dwyer (1822-1897) in 1857 when he was 38 years old. She was known as Kate. The next year John Greenwood bought Lot 24 from the Estate of Henry William Savage.

1860 Tremaine North Shore Ashbridges Bay

County of York map by Tremaine 1860. The Greenwoods bought lots at the northwest corner of the sideroad in the centre of the map. Capt. Neville, married to the daughter of Mayor Munro, owned the east side of Greenwood Avenue. The creeks in the map are, from left to right, Hastings Creek, Ashbridge’s Creek, and Small’s Creek.

In 1862, someone reported the Greenwoods for keeping a disorderly house, usually a euphemism for a brothel, although they may only have been selling liquor without a tavern license as the meaning of the term expanded to include gambling and drinking. Today, Canada’s Criminal Code, at §197, defines it this way:

Disorderly house means a common bawdy-house, a common betting house or a common gaming house.

It was fairly clear even at the time that John Greenwood was a “sporting man” who liked betting and the manly sports usually associated with bars.

The eleventh meeting of the York Township Council was held on the 6th inst. Present – The Reeve, and Councillors Bull, Maglan and Playter.

Communications received and read, —
From G. James, Esq., complaining of John Greenwood, for keeping a disorderly house.” Globe, October 11, 1862


Memorial to John Greenwood, martyr, Emmanuel College, Cambridge

Globe, Nov. 8, 1862

Globe, Nov. 8, 1862

Son John continued the family betting tradition at Greenwood and Queen later.

Globe, Aug. 14, 1909

Globe, Aug. 14, 1909, John Greenwood, bookie, 1340 Queen Street East

John and Kate Greenwood opened the Puritan Tavern in 1864 at their home at the northwest corner of Kingston Road (now Queen Street East) though it is fairly obvious thay they were selling liquor without a license before that. The Puritan Hotel was not a temperance hotel as the name might lead one to believe, but was named after the famous Puritan martyr, John Greenwood. The Puritan was licensed to sell liquor.

“Mrs. Catherine Greenwood, Kingston Road, ice dealer and hotel proprietor, established in 1864 by John Greenwood, who was also a carriage maker and painter.”  History of Toronto and County of York Ontario.  Vol. I. Toronto: C. Blackett Robinson, Publisher, 1885, 491.

The lane next to the inn became known as “Greenwood’s Lane” and later, “Greenwood Avenue”. It was not an easy time for the Greenwoods. William Greenwood, who worked for George Leslie and may have been a relative, was arrested in a shocking crime involving infanticide and the murder of beautiful young women. This Greenwood was luckier than the cat, one supposes, and only escaped hanging by committing suicide in his cell the night before his scheduled execution.

Greenwood the murderer

Life and times of William Greenwood: the murderer, who committed suicide in Toronto jail, on the night of the 22nd Feb., 1864, a few hours prior to the time appointed for his execution, published 1864.

Leslieville 1868 - Copy - Copy

Detail from the 1868 Gehle, Fawkes & Hassard Reconnaissance Sketches of the Toronto Area

This map shows the location of the Puritan, the inn owned by John and Catharine (Kate) Greenwood. It is at the north-west corner of Greenwood Lane (now Greenwood Avenue), and Kingston Road (now Queen Street East, where the Greenwood Variety store is today). If you look between the two creeks at the right-hand side of the map, the T-junction between Greenwood Lane and Kingston Rd is clear. Greenwood Lane was beginning to be developed by brickmakers. Greenwood Lane led to the couple’s market garden. Their ice business was just to the west of the inn.


Wood cut from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

John Greenwood

An imaginative rendering of a Puritan Tavern sign, but not the sign that hung outside John Greenwood’s Puritan Tavern

The name of the tavern was a kind of pun that would have been understood by their neighbours. John Greenwood was a Puritan preacher who was hung as a martyr. The Greenwood family were unlikely to have been active church goers, although they were surrounded by the devout. The Leslieville Methodist Church, at Ashport (now Vancouver Avenue) and the Kingston Road (Queen Street East) was only a few hundred yards away. Martyr books were very common in Protestant homes of the day and excerpts read on Sunday afternoons as entertainment and education. Though very pious, they were also very gory. The very sign on the Puritan was both a reference to John Greenwood and the Puritans, making fun of their religious neighbours perhaps!

Map for overlays

Detail from an 1878 County Atlas. The solid dark block on the north side of Kingston Road between Hastings Creek and Greenwood Avenue indicates that this was built up with a continuous row of stores and other buildings. The lower part of Greenwood Avenue on the west side is all brickyards. The Ashbridges purchased Captain Brett Neville’s 65 acres. Brick yard work was thirsty work.

Kate and John Greenwood had six children together.  Their son William John (1857–1882) was born on September 3, 1857 in Leslieville, York, Ontario. Their son Frederick (1859-1943) was born on January 15, 1859 in Leslieville. The Greenwoods are in the 1861 Census on John Greenwood King Street E., north side [now Queen Street East]. Their son Samuel (1862-1921) was born on March 30, 1862 and son Charles (1864-1907) was born on at their home in the inn on Kingston Road on June 8, 1864. Another innkeeper, William Vine of the Butcher’s Arms (on Mill Road, later known as Broadview Avenue) got several lots from John Greenwood in 1864. He may have won them betting with Greenwood.

18651107GL Greenwoods shooting grounds' - Copy

Globe, November 7, 1865

The Greenwood’s daughter Susanna passed away on October 18, 1867, at the age of 17. John Greenwood’s died four months later, on February 17, 1868, at the age of 48. He and Susanna may have died of tuberculosis. Some time after his death, “The Puritan Hotel” became known as “Greenwood’s Hotel”.

Greenwood John

Gravestone, John Greenwood, Catherine, William, Charles and Elizabeth, St. John of Norway Cemetery

In 1869, after her father’s death, another Susanna was born. Kate was 47 with a new-born and a handful of young children to feed, clothe and educate.

To make life as a single mother even more difficult, Kate could not read or write according to the 1871 Census. She took over the complete running of the inn, the ice business and a market garden.

Leslieville Directory 1873

Leslieville Directory 1873

An 1882 Directory lists her as the proprietess, Greenwood’s Hotel, and she regularly applied to the County or York for a tavern license and got it.

18820420GL Greenwood Tavern Leslieville

Globe, April 20, 1882 Granting of tavern license

In 1883 Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show came to the Woodbine Racetrack during its first year of travel. No doubt Kate served many on their way to and from the racetrack. Her neighbour, Tom Beatty, drove the horse-drawn tramway that carried passengers along the Kingston Road from Ben Lamond to the Don River.

1883 City of Toronto Directory 1

1883 City of Toronto Directory for Leslieville

1883 City of Toronto Directory 2

1883 City of Toronto Directory for Leslieville

On May 22, 1885 The Globe reported that Catherine Greenwood had again been granted a tavern license.

In 1886, she was living at 1395 Queen Street East, but no longer operated the Puritan. Alpheus E. Brown took over the hotel and after that it passed through several hands, including Robert Milburn’s, until Richard O’Leary became the proprietor. On his death in 1891, it ceased to operate as a hotel and was torn down when Greenwood Avenue was widened. After she retired from the hotel, Kate Greenwood ran an ice cream parlour on the south side of Queen Street across the street from her son Frederick Greenwood’s house.

Frederick Greenwood House - Copy

The Frederick Greenwood House at Vancouver and Queen Street East. Photo by Joanne Doucette.

City Directory (Toronto R.L. Polk & Co., 1888), p. 580

City Directory (Toronto R.L. Polk & Co., 1888), p. 580. Catherine (Kate) Greenwood, 1411 Queen St E, Son Charles, worker in ice business, boards 1411 Queen St E, Son Frederick Greenwood, ice dealer, 1340 Queen St E, Son Samuel Greenwood, worker in ice business, boards 1411 Queen St. E.

City Directory (Toronto: R.L. Polk & Co., 1888), p. 580. Listing of Greenwoods in City of Toronto. Note:  Catherine Greenwood (widow of John) home 1411 Queen Street East, Charles Greenwood, ice, boards, 1411 Queen Street East, Samuel Greenwood, ice, boards 1411 Queen Street East. Frederick is across the road at 1340 Queen Street E. His home is there and also this is his business address

In 1892 she was living at 1411 Queen East where she died on April 27, 1897, at the age of 75. 1411 Queen Street East is probably the same house as 1395 Queen Street East, the street having been renumbered.

1884 Ashbridges creek in Goads Atlas

Ashbridges Creek in Goads Atlas, 1884.

This 1884 map shows one house across from the Wesleyan Chapel and that house was undoubtedly Kate Greenwood’s.

The most likely candidate and the only house that would be old enough is that at 1401 Queen Street East where the new Leslieville mural is going up right now. It is a classic centre gable “Ontario Cottage” though buried beneath ugly modern siding. The Ontario Cottage is a style of small house with three bays, usually one-and-a-half storeys with large windows and featuring that centre gable over the front door. They were usually rectangular with a centre hallway and rooms (often four) off the hallway. Many like this have later additions.

The Greenwood’s tombstone in St. John of Norway Cemetery reads:

“In Memory of John Greenwood Died Feb. 17 1868 Aged 46 Years Also his wife, Catherine Died April 27 1897 Aged 75 Years William J. Died Nov. 11 1882 Aged 25 Years Charles Died Dec. 31 1907 Aged 43 Years Elizabeth Died March 13 1932 Aged 81 Years”

John Greenwood’s sister Jane  searched, not knowing he was long dead, to find her long lost brother John. She advertised:

“Greenwood (John), COACH PAINTER, left Derby about 1849-50, to go to Toronto, America. Sister Jane would like to know. Daily Mail and Empire, Sept. 3, 1895.”

18950903DailyMailandEmpire John Greenwood

Daily Mail and Empire, September 3, 1895



By GTD Aquitaine (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Orient No. 339 Lodge Room was consecrated July 24, 1886 Photo by GTD Aquitaine (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons



By Sam Herbert (1876-1966)

In the year 1884, Orient Masonic Lodge, having outgrown its lodge rooms at the corner of McGee Street and the Kingston Road, decided to erect a new Masonic Hall, and a site was procured at the north-west corner of the Kingston Road and Boulton Avenue.

A special communication of the lodge was held on June 30th, 1885 when the Grand Master, most Worshipful Bro. Hugh Murray with his Grand Lodge Officers, laid the corner stone. A procession was formed outside the lodge room on McGee Street and marched via McGee Street, Eastern Avenue, Scadding Street to the Kingston Road and Boulton Avenue. The procession was headed by the band of the Toronto Garrison Artillery. A large concourse of spectators witnessed the ceremony. It is interesting to note that both the buildings referred to are still standing and in good condition.

Atillery band

18850701 GL Orient Lodge Cornerstone - Copy

Globe, July 1, 1885

Grand Lodge of Canada 1885 18

Grand Lodge of Canada, 1885

Grand Lodge of Canada 1885 19

Grand Lodge of Canada, 1885

Grand Lodge of Canada 1885 20

Grand Lodge of Canada, 1885

Local Improvements and Electric Lights from Mud Roads & Plank Sidewalks Part 8

Local Improvements and Electric Lights


By Sam Herbert (1876-1966)


Toronto from the North East, 1882 Artist: Alexander Blaikley Credit: Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. R9266-48 Peter Winkworth Collection of Canadiana


Pape and Queen as it was ca. 1880 when 4-year old Sam Herbert moved there. (looking east along Queen, Pape is at left), painting by John MacPherson Ross


Detail from Corduroy Road Over a Swamp in Orillia Township, Ontario WARE, TITUS HIBBERT (1810-1890) Picture, September, 1844, Toronto Public Library

Now, going back to about 1885, after Leslieville was absorbed by the city, local improvements commenced.  Almost the first, was a sewer. Pape’s sideline must have been a corduroy road in its early because, because when preparing for the sewer, long logs were pulled out of the muck. They had been laid across the street, and were too waterlogged to burn. The men dug down to the solid blue clay for a good foundation. White brick was used in the construction and it was all man power. Later boys were paid thirty cents a day for keeping the workers supplied with barley water, and the same tin dipper was used by all.

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Wages for the men was a dollar and a quarter a day. They worked from seven A.M. to six P.M.


Wages for the men was a dollar and a quarter a day. They worked from seven A.M. to six P.M. “Worn Out”/”Épuisé”.  ca. 1920 Toronto, Ont. ? Credit: Albert Van / Library and Archives Canada / PA-126698

With the sewer completed, the ditches on either side were levelled up a bit. ·Water mains were the next item on the list, and when we were connected with city water through a small hydrant outside our back door, and all one had to do was turn a key, and have all the water required—well, we were right in the lap of luxury. It is true, the blamed hydrant froze up in the severe cold weather, but hot water poured on it was the remedy. The next winter we found that by building a wooden frame around the hydrant with only the spout and key exposed to the weather, and the inside of the box packed with sawdust, that we had an almost frost-proof water supply.

When the gas mains were laid it was a big improvement over the coal oil lamps that were in use, although more dangerous. One read every so often that so and so blew out the gas and a near tragedy was the result. Old habits die hard and it was easy to be forgetful and use the same method to extinguish the gas that had been used for the coal oil lamps.

With the advent of city water, cisterns, rain barrels, and wells gradually disappeared, although many still retained the rain barrel for the lovely soft water they had been used to for washing woolens, clothes, etc. If one had a rain barrel now, would it be safe to use the water, or what colour would it be, with the number of factories belching their acrid smoke and fumes all over the district. It is just as well that the down pipes from the roof lead direct to the sewer.

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As new homes were built, bathrooms were installed, and older homes were modernized. No more cold trips to the outhouse in all kinds of weather, but I think many of the older people missed the outside shrine where they could sit in peace, quietness, and meditate.


Then with the march of progress, the streets were paved. Block paving was the method then in vogue. The road was levelled. Horses pulling a scraper over it until it was brought within about a foot of the level of the sidewalk. The roadbed was then pounded by groups of men, two men to a pounder, which was a heavy thick post of hardwood, with a handle going horizontal through the post, and another vertical handle on top, the men grasping the top handle to guide it, and with the other handle–one man on each side, they would lift the pounder about a foot or fifteen inches above the ground and then let it drop.


Installing wood block pavement. The pounder is the post in the foreground. From


It was very effective, but hard work. After the road was pounded hard, gravel and sand was spread on it evenly, and this again pounded. Then the cedar blocks of various sizes, but all of uniform length were placed end up, and side by side, and again pounded. Then sharp sand was spread thickly over the top, and with the aid of push brooms, was worked into all the crevices until they were completely filled. Then a little more sand for good measure was spread on top, and with another pounding and levelling off, that portion of the road was ready for traffic.

New cedar block pavement Harbord Street - Robert Street to Spadina Avenue

New cedar block pavement Harbord Street – Robert Street to Spadina Avenue November 1, 1899

This type of paving; worked fine for a while, but the sides of the road which were not used so much, soon began to fill up with grass and weeds due to the fertilizing effect of the washed down horse manure, and such like refuse. The centre of the road which was used the most soon began to wear down due to the sharp calks on the shoes of the horses. But the block pavement had its day and served its purpose well.

More East End Road work

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Background by Joanne Doucette

19010802 TS Paving Queen St Toronto Star, Aug. 2, 1901

As the twentieth century dawned, people expected better and more from their City. In 1900 a typhoid epidemic swept Toronto. Finally the City had to take public health seriously. City Hall responded by building water filtration plants, using alum (aluminum) and chlorine to treat the water. In Leslieville people had welcomed amalgamation with Toronto, seeing it as progress. However, change was slower than expected. The East End’s main street, Queen Street East, was still a mess. In 1901 East Enders celebrated the paving of Queen Street East from the Don Bridge to the G.T.R. tracks: the boundary between Riverside and Leslieville. They gloried in the smooth asphalt, walking up and down on the asphalt all night, dancing and making merry. An old timer remembered driving oxen with a wooden cattle prod down the muddy trail that later became Queen Street East.

“Forty-nine years ago I drove down that street behind horned horses,” soliloquized Mr. James Hewitt, one of the early East Enders, as he gazed upon the gay scene last night. “My coachman walked—not because the walking was good, but because it was easier on the constitution that riding in those days, and it was fashionable then to operate oxen with a beech gad.”[1]

[1] Toronto Star, August 2, 1901


Queen Street East at Hastings Avenue, Sept. 30, 1910, showing an electric arc light hanging over the street.



Toronto Electric Light Company Steam Reserve and Battery Plant : close-up September 22, 1915

The old street gave way to electric “arc” street lighting. High poles were placed at the street corners and the electric arc light installed.


Queen Street East at Hastings Avenue, Sept. 30, 1910, showing an electric arc light hanging over the street. Photograph below by Julia Patterson.

A man made regular rounds each day, and lowered the light to within four or five feet of the ground, and then standing on a low wooden stool loosened the burned-out carbons and threw them away, where they were eagerly grabbed up by the usual small boy who would be waiting. The carbons made very good thick black pencils.


The carbon “pencils” or rods in an electric carbon arc lamp.

The man would then hoist the light, or I should say, pull it up to the twenty-five or thirty feet to its position, and go on to the next one. I find the dictionary gives the following description of an arc light–“a sustained luminous glow or arc of light formed between two incandescent electrodes. To form an electric arc”.

Victoria Park from MUD ROADS & PLANK SIDEWALKS Part 7



By Sam Herbert (1876-1966)

18780530 GL Grand OpeningFor a few years regular excursion steamers plied between Toronto and Victoria Park during the summer season. They were well patronized and the return fare was twenty-five cent s for adults.  Near the Victoria Park Dock, the wreck of the T.S. Robb remained for a long time. In the Park was a shooting gallery, and various forms of outdoor entertainment, also a high wooden tower. I don’t remember what it was for. It may have been a look-out tower of some kind.

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At Munro Park, later on, there were various entertainment, singers, merry-go-rounds, shooting galleries, fortune telling, and so on. They all drew their quota of people in the evenings. The Toronto Street Railway extended its tracks nearer to the Park and ran moonlight excursions. It consisted of open cars with strings of coloured electric lights along the ides. Bicycles were in their hey-day, and hundreds of people wheeled to the park in the evenings.

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A trip around the Belt Line was another outdoor pastime that was very popular in the evenings. Open street cars with strings of multi-coloured electric lights strung along the sides made the trip from King Street, up Sherbourne to Bloor, along Bloor to Spadina Avenue, down Spadina Ave. to King and east along King to Sherbourne again. Of course, one could board the cars at stops en route. A popular saying at that time was that if a chap put his arm around a girl’s waist, he “was going around the belt line.”

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