All posts filed under: General History

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. He kept a grocery store at the north-east corner of Queen and Pape, and had a thriving business. 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. I think the grocer could have papered a room with the unpaid bills on his books.  The hours were long, …

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

PIGEON AND SPARROW SHOOTS 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. 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”. Twenty-four birds had been killed by each of the contestants. 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. The contestant …

Mystery of the Hanging Cat of Greenwood & Queen

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. Why 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. Not long after the Greenwoods moved to Derby. Derby became an important …

Masonic Hall from MUD ROADS AND PLANK SIDEWALKS Part 9

MASONIC HALL from MUD ROADS AND PLANK SIDEWALKS: LESLIEVILLE 1880 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.

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

Local Improvements and Electric Lights from MUD ROADS AND PLANK SIDEWALKS: LESLIEVILLE 1880 By Sam Herbert (1876-1966) 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. Wages for the men was a dollar and a quarter a day. They worked from seven A.M. to six P.M. 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 …

Victoria Park from MUD ROADS & PLANK SIDEWALKS Part 7

VICTORIA PARK From MUD ROADS AND PLANK SIDEWALKS: LESLIEVILLE 1880 By Sam Herbert (1876-1966) For 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. 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. A trip around the Belt Line …

19th Century East End Villages: Donmount, Riverside, Leslieville, Norway

These are excerpts from various Directories showing the streets and villages of the East End. The area was also known as “Over the Don” or sometimes “The Goose Flats”. This lists the residents by head of household (i.e. the men). We still have lots of Canada Geese with us though their pickings aren’t from market gardens anymore. They’ve developed a taste for fast food.

ASHBRIDGES BAY from MUD ROADS & PLANK SIDEWALKS Part 6

ASHBRIDGES BAY from MUD ROADS AND PLANK SIDEWALKS: LESLIEVILLE 1880 By Sam Herbert (1876-1966) Ashbridges Bay teemed with fish and wild life. My favourite fishing spot was from the pilings outside the large ice house that was located at Leslie Street and Eastern Avenue, where the paint works is now located. It was a splendid place for sunfish, perch, bass, and catfish. Two or three days a week after school, enough fish could be caught for a couple of good meals. This all helped out. Across the Bay on the north shore was Bill Lang’s Boathouse. There was quite a lot of marsh in between. It seemed to be open season all the time for fishing, and almost every home contained a shotgun, some of them, the old muzzle-loading variety with shot, powder pouch, and ramrod as necessary equipment. In the Fall, ducks came down in thousands to the Bay, and were shot for the market as well as home use. Many a duck hunter making quite a tidy sum from the sale of them, …