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