Welcome to the story of a street and a subdivision. Who knew that such a short street could spin so many golden stories! There is so much to share about Austin Avenue, but records can only tell so much. Do you live on Austin Avenue? Is it a good place to live? What about your house? Does it hold secrets? I have combed many sources to uncover some of those tales and will post more than one page on Austin Avenue if the response warrants it. Local historians run the risk of being the bore at the party that everyone hides from. I like to think of myself as a story teller too and I find the stories of everyday people and neighbourhoods intriguing. Each house a mystery! Let me know if you want more on Austin Avenue. Further on in the article I start with a house by house listing of documents, beginning with the north side of the street and ending in the middle (I ran out of energy!)
Maple Leaf Skating Rink is where the recreation centre is today. I suspect that the Maple Leaf Tavern was for a period of time the clubhouse for the skating rink — it was one way to get around the prohibition and temperance laws.
Most of these properties were granted to “reliable” people, friends of Lieut. Governor John Graves Simcoe. Some were United Empire Loyalists like Christopher Robinson; others like the Ashbridges were “Late Loyalists” who came for cheap or free land. Many of the large landowners listed in the map above held onto their property until the building boom of the 1850’s when they subdivided it into market gardens. Those market gardens were later subdivided further into small housing developments like Subdivision Plan #549.
Subdivision 549 This property was purchased by George Washington Badgerow in 1886 from John Mills. Badgerow developed Subdivision 549, selling 26 lots almost immediately. Each lot was in turn subdivided and small wooden houses built.
Newspaper articles can give a sense of the life of the street. Perhaps some of these stories are ones the current residents of Austin Avenue can relate to.
Another way to find a lot of information is to go over the title search if you own your house or to have a title search done. It can also be done on line for free (but not more recent transactions) or by going to a Land Registry Office and doing it yourself. Here are some examples of the kind of information in these documents.
Lot 1 309 and 311 Pape Avenue
In 1886 George W. Badgerow sold two lots to Mark Sparkhall and Fanny Otter while holding the mortgages on the properties. Over the next two decades the properties passed through various hands, including members of the Pape family of market gardeners who had extensive greenhouses on Pape Avenue.
In 1903 trustees of the Toronto Hebrew Congregation Holy Blossom purchased the property from George Alexander Woodward. In 1905 they sold some of the property to Robert and Mary E. Lankin. The property then was purchased by a series of owners, including Hugh D. Wise, a famous rower of the time, and his wife Sarah. The Wises were brickmakers which suggests that this property may have been a brick clay pit. Leslie Creek and Holly Creek cut ravines through the area. This exposed the layers of clay and sand in the creek banks. Clay, sand and water were the essential raw materials used to make bricks.
Lots 2 & 3 2 to 16 Austin Avenue.
David Hunter brought Lot 3 from Badgerow and sold it to John Jones. Both were brickmakers and may have mined out the clay before they sold the property for housing..
One of the mortgage holders was Goldwin Smith of the Grange. This and Lot 3 became part of another Subdivision Plan: Subdivision #230.
Lot 4 303 and 305 Pape Avenue
In 1886 George W. Badgerow purchased Lot 4 from John Mills and subdivided it. Eventually it was purchased by James Clifford and his wife Helen and Cliffords lived there until the 1960’s.
Lot 5 301, 299, 297 Pape Ave
In 1896 City of Toronto seized it for unpaid taxes and in 1907 sold it to Robert Lankin.
Lot 6 275, 285 Pape Avenue
Lot 7 11, 15 Austin Avenue
In 1886 Badgerow sold this to Charles H Clifford. It stayed in the Clifford family until 1969.
Lot 8 17 and 19 Austin Ave
A.M. Wellings purchased this lot from Badgerow in 1886.
Lot 9 Jones Jones bought this property from Badgerow in 1886 and the next year sold it to William White. It stayed in the White family until the 1950s.
Lot 10 In 1886 Badgerow sold this lot to James Poole. The lots passed through various hands.
Lot 11 John Jones brought the property from Badgerow and in turn sold it to one of the Hagerman family (Albert E. Hagerman)
Lot 13 Catherine and Jeremiah Lynch brought the property in 1886 from George W Badgerow. It remained in the Lynch family for many years.
Lot 14 Honora Ellen (Nora) Lynch bought this property from Badgerow in 1887. In 1913 it was owned by Nora and Ellen Lynch, spinsters.
Lot 15 In 1887 Badgerow sold this lot to the Ingram family.
Some of these real estate transactions appeared in the newspapers of the day.
Here is a real estate ad from the early days of Austin Avenue.
But back to the lives of those who lived on Austin Avenue.
If you like this page, please let us know and we will post more on the people of Austin Avenue.