Ashbridge’s Bay

Timeline Ashbridge’s Bay

12000 BP Fossil landscape. Lower Don & Ashbridge’s Bay drowned by high water levels in the Ontario basin Lake Iroquois in the basin of what is now Lake Ontario.  55 metres higher than Lake Ontario. Where the proto Don River entered Lake Iroquois, wave action & a westward offshore current deposited sediments in a a “baymouth bar” with a backshore lagoon — Ashbridge’s Bay.[2]

The shores of Lake Ontario about Toronto are low except on the east, at Scarboro (9 miles from downtown), where the land rises to 324 feet above the lake, & forms Scarborough Bluffs.[3] Continual strong wave action erodes material away.  The backwash from the waves removes sediment. The current moves it along the shore until the energy of the water is too low to let it be carried further. Niagara Current runs west along the north shore of Lake Ontario parallel to shore. It is a longshore current. Long finger-like peninsula. Ridges & troughs.  Coastline is indented, forms sheltered area.  Current slows, sands deposit, initially forming small pocket beachs, on the inner shore.  The current eventually spread sand across baymouth from east to west forming a spit.  A series of offshore bars, in a peak & trough pattern, lie offshore.[4]  Continuously moving sand-bars, or littoral drift deposits ran from Woodbine Avenue to Gibraltar Point. By the early 1800s, the longest of the sand bars reached almost 9 kms south-west from Woodbine Ave.

Offshore, the lake bed steeply drops off at the shore cliff of ancient Lake Admiralty.  This is known as “the Toronto Scarp”. This drowned lakeshore runs parallel to the Beach & the Toronto Islands. Here upwelling currents carry food, attracting shoals of fish.  Ashbridge’s Bay, deeper in east end, east of Leslie, marsh in shallow end where Don entered. Maze of channels connecting ponds with areas of open water. The marsh was 520 ha or 1,285 acres (Long Point 32 km & 28,000 ha).

Migratory wildfowl. Staging area. Wild rice. Aquatic plants. Cattails, water lilies, arrowhead, grasses & duck weeds in the sloughs between the dunes.  Prairie plants on dunes. Cottonwoods. Nutrients from the Don created habitat for frogs, turtles, fish, etc. Originally some 11 creeks or brooks drained into Ashbridges Bay. Western end the River Don. Now confined to an artificial channel & flows into Toronto Bay somewhat further north than where the original outlet of Ashbridge’s Bay was. [5]


  1. Heward/Holly Creek
  2. Leslie Creek
  3. Laing/Hastings Creek.[6][7]
  4. Ashbridge’s Creek. [8]
  5.  Small’s Creek/Norway Creek or Tomlin Creek,Small’s Pond/The Serpentinel.
  6. Several other small streams flowed into the bay in this area as well.

“Plan of the Front Line of Dublin now York” 1791 shows a large stream in lot 15 with 2 branches stretch past what is now Queen Street.  This same map shows a small stream between Lots 11 & 12, 2 streams in Lot 11, one in the middle of Lot 10, a large stream in Lot 9 & another in Lot 7, with a final stream in Lot 7.[9]  Alexander Aitkin’s  Plan of York Harbour also shows a number of small streams in the Leslieville area.[10] A creek flowed through the area east of the Don River around Saulter & Lewis Streets. (Later this area became heavily industrialized).[11]

1759 French soldier Pierre Pouchot Ashbridge’s Bay: “a point of land, wooded & forming a peninsula & in the rear a large bay partly covered with rushes.”[12]

1787 Toronto Purchase

1788 Deputy Surveyor General J. Collins: …near 2 miles in length from the entrance to the isthmus between it & a large morass to the eastward.  The breadth of the entrance is about half a mile, but the navigable channel for vessels is only about 500 yards, having from 3 to 3 1/2 fathoms water.  The north or main shore the whole length of the harbor is a clay bank, from 12 to 20 feet high, & gradually rising behind, apparently good land & fit for settlement.  The water is rather shoal near the shore, having but one fathom of depth at 100 yards distance, 2 fathoms at 200 yards, & when I sounded here the waters of the lake were very high. [13] His 1788 map shows an extensive marsh.[14]

1790 First concerted European settlement began in what is now Toronto.

1792 Joseph Bouchette 1832 remembered: “The formation of the peninsula itself is extraordinary, being a narrow slip of land, in several places not more than sixty yards in width, but widening towards its extremity to nearly a mile.  It is principally a bank of sand, slightly overgrown with grass.  The widest part is very curiously intersected by many large ponds, that are the continual resorts of large quantities of wild fowl.  A few trees scattered upon it greatly increases the singularity of its appearance:  it lies so low that the wide expanse of Lake Ontario is seen over it.  The termination of the peninsula is called Gibraltar Point, where a blockhouse has been erected.  A lighthouse at the western extremity of the beach has rendered the access to the harbor safely practicable by night.  The eastern part of the harbor is bounded by an extensive marsh, through which the River Don runs before it discharges itself into the basin.” [15]  His 1792 map shows the Peninsula as wooded with scattered ponds & wetlands on the north shore at the east end.  It shows a portage or “carry place” & “Indian Huts” at the foot of what is now Parliament Street.  A sandy beach covered the whole south side of the Peninsula (later Toronto Island).[16]

1793 May 2 Simcoe & 7 officers followed the shore line in a bateau around the west end of the Lake. July 29, 1793 Mrs. Simcoe sailed to Toronto on the sloop Onondaga. Elizabeth Simcoe recorded her first impressions of the Toronto Islands. She describes in her journal a “low spit of land covered with wood” that “breaks the horizon of the Lake” & “greatly improves the view.” She referred to the Islands as “my favourite sands.” Peter Russell:  “Nothing can be pleasanter than this beautiful Bason, bounded on one side by a number of low sandy peninsulas, & on the other by a bluff bank of 60 feet, from which extends back a thick wood of huge forest trees.”[17] Much of this timber was pine & hardwood mixed, but there were tracts of solid pine. “Back burned lands. Sarah Ashbridge with her 2 sons & 3 daughters.  On entering the bay in their boat, someone in the party blew a blast on a big shell, of which at least 2 were brought with them & used later for dinner horns, & that the ducks flew up in thousands at the sound.[18]

1794 Mrs. Simcoe’s her diary: “We dined in a meadow on the peninsula, where I amused myself with setting fire to a kind of long dry grass, which burns very quickly, & the flame & smoke run along the ground very quickly & with a pretty effect.”[19] Lady Simcoe’s diary includes descriptions of wolves, bear, deer, wolverine, lynx, eagles, ducks & other wildfowl and references to native peoples. Her entry for January 26-27, 1794 records groups of “Indians” ice fishing on Ashbridges Bay, as follows:

We went to the Don to see Mr. Talbot skate. Capt. Aeneas Shaw’s children set the marshy ground [the marsh at Ashbridge’s Bay] below the bay on fire; the long grass on it burns with great rapidity this dry weather. It was a fine sight, & a study for flame & smoke from our house. At night the flames diminished, & appeared like lamps on a dark night in the crescent at Bath. I walked below the bay & set the other side of the marsh on fire for amusement.

The Indians have cut holes in the ice, over which they spread a blanket on poles, & they sit under the shed, moving a wooden fish hung to a line by way of attracting the living fish, which they spear with great dexterity when they approach.

According to her, fish caught this way included & pickerel. January 23 1796, she wrote of red trout caught by ice fishing on the Don River. [20]

1800 Wild hay.—This is the product of various kinds of wild grass, which grow on the natural meadows or marshes of the country.  Some, of course, are preferable to others; the most esteemed seemed to be, what is called “the spear “grass,” & that which is most abundantly intermixed with the wild pea-vine. The earlier they are cut & cured, when full grown, the better; & it is though a greater advantage, when ricking them, to scatter, at intervals, layers of salt.  These wild meadows or marshes afford excellent pasture in the spring, before the flies appear; & in the autumn after the cold has quelled them. In the winter there were often fires fanning across the dry reeds & cattails.[21]

1801 Malaria (before canal building). P. vivax. John Bennett wrote: I am just recovering from a severe fit of fever & ague which confined me to bed for 10 days past — nobody can escape it who pretends to live here.  Mr. McLean, Clerk of the Assembly who will deliver you this, has also been extremely ill with [it] & in some families one person is not able to assist another; there is a marsh about 1/2 mile from where I live from which a thick fog arises every morning — people attribute it in great measure to that & to the low & uncultivated state of the country.  I have been delirious almost every day, but by taking of bark every 2 hours according to Dr. McCaulay’s prescription I have missed the ague these 2 days past — I hope in God I shall have no more of it, it sets me quite crazy.[22]

1805 D’Arcy Boulton completed one of the first known engineering projects on Ashbridge’s Bay:  “Having land in the vicinity of the marsh at the east end of the town he, at great expense, cut an open channel through a portion of this marsh, on the eastern side of the Don River, in front of this property. This channel has continued open ever since, & is known as “Boulton’s Ditch.” Fishermen & skiffmen along the Don appreciate the ditch, however, as it forms a communication between the Don & Ashbridge’s Bay.[23]  D’Arcy Boulton: 1805 The river Don empties into the harbour a little above the town, running through a marsh, which, when drained, will afford most beautiful & valuable meadows. This has already been affected in a small degree, & will no doubt be extended; the difficulty is not very great, & from the contiguity of the marsh to the town the expense, though heavy, may be supplied. The long beach or peninsula affords a most delightful walk or ride, & is considered as so healthy by the Indians, that they frequently resort to it when indisposed.[24]

1807 Calls for the draining Ashbridge’s Marsh. Malaria. In 1807, “A Country Subscriber”, writing to the Gazette, put forth his views, as follows:

To the Printers of the York GazetteIt cannot have escaped the observations of any person acquainted with the River Don that at times, & in all high winds, it is impossible to get to or from the town with craft of any description through the present channel [Western Gap].  Whereas, if nature’s hint was improved — I mean the break which took place 3 years ago–the navigation would be made safe & practicable at all times, &, without any of the inconveniences attending the old, the new channel would shorten the distance from York to the Don Mills upwards of a mile.  It would also, by being properly opened, do more towards draining the marsh than a large sum of money laid out in any other possible way.  If permission could be obtained from the Governor & Council for the purpose, the few feet to be cut for opening the new channel would be done by subscription.  Added to this other general advantages, it would be a great object to the owners of cattle & others who do not possess pasture ground in the neighbourhood.[25]

1810 [circa] “The advancement of this place to its present condition has been effected with the lapse of 6 or 7 years, & persons who have formerly travelled in this part of the country are impressed with sentiments of wonder on beholding a town which may be termed handsome, reared as if by enchantment in the midst of the wilderness…the scene is agreeable & diversified;  a blockhouse, situated upon a wooded bank, forms the nearest object; part of the town, points of land cloathed with spreading oak trees, gradually receding from the eye one behind another, until terminated by the buildings of the garrison & the spot on which the governor’s residence is placed, compose the objects on the right.  The left side of the view comprehends the long peninsula which encloses this sheet of water, beautiful on account of its placidity, & rotundity of form; the distant lake, which appears bounded only by the sky, terminates the whole”.[26]

1810 Henry Scadding, “The language of the early Provincial Gazetteer, published by authority, is as follows:  “The Don empties itself into the harbour, a little above the Town, running through a marsh, which when drained, will afford most beautiful & fruitful meadows.’  In the early manuscript Plans, the same sanguine opinion is recorded, in regard to the morasses in this locality.  On one, of 1810, now before us, we have the inscription:  ‘Natural Meadow which may be mown.’  On another the legend runs:  ‘Large Marsh, & will in time make good Meadows.’  On a third it is:  ‘Large Marsh & Good Grass.’[27] In the winter there were often fires fanning across the dry reeds & cattails. Once a year in the early part of the century the marsh was intentionally set on fire as a spectacle for the town.[28]

1810 The Mississauga dominated the fishery, selling fish near the St. Lawrence Market.

1810 Rev. John Doel, who died in 1909 at 93, remembered his “boyhood days [when] sea salmon were sometimes caught in the [Don] river.[29]

1819 Miasmasin the summer of 1819, when a degree & a continuance of warmth was experienced, greater than had been know for the preceding 20 years; & when, amidst the universal sickliness which prevailed in both provinces, that of the western district of the Upper Province, seemed somewhat to preponderate.

The fact that increased sickliness arises in very hot & dry seasons, may seem here to demand explanation; for it is the action of heat upon moisture which depraves the air.  This was the exact case in the instance in question.[30]

1819 E.A. Talbot noted:  “The situation of the town is very unhealthy; for it stands on a piece of low marshy land, which is better calculated for frog-pond or beaver-meadow than for the residence of human begins.  The inhabitants are, on this account, much subject, particularly in Spring & Autumn, to agues & intermittent fevers; & probably five-sevenths of the people are annually afflicted with these complaints.  He who first fixed upon this spot as the site of the capital of Upper Canada, whatever predilection he may have had for the roaring of frogs, or for the effluvia arising from stagnated waters & putrid vegetables can certainly have had not very great regard for preserving the lives of his Majesty’s subjects.”[31]

During the construction of the Rideau Canal, a temperate form of malaria, P. Vivax, was present. This was the form of malaria in southern Ontario & it was present … prior to the building of the Rideau Canal. It has 2 cycles, the normal short (weeks) malaria cycle & a much longer cycle where it would spend 9 months or longer incubating in the liver of a human. P. falciparum, introduced into the U.S. with the African slave trade, doesn’t have the ability to over-winter in Canada, so, if it was present, it must have been re-introduced each year.[32]

1820 [circa] The lakes abound with fish…Salmon (of an excellent description) is found as high up as the cataract of Niagara, but that is a barrier, of course, which they cannot surmount. They abound more on the north than on the south side of Lake Ontario…a fish called the white fish. It is somewhat larger than the mackerel, is taken in November & affords an excellent winter stock. 

The sturgeon abounds in its season, & when well cured, is, in my opinion, extremely palatable; but is principally used by Indians.

There are several other kinds, very plentiful in their seasons, & very good; such as a species of herring (as it is called), white & black bass, &c. &c.…

 A large fish, called the muskinunge … not frequently taken, is esteemed one of the finest in the lakes.[33]

The Lake Ontario Atlantic salmon is extinct. At one time, Atlantic salmon were so common in Lake Ontario & its tributaries that catches were measured in barrels of fish rather than in numbers of individual fish. The population began to decline by the mid-1800s & continued to decline with various hatchery stocking activities, which began in 1866. The last known Atlantic salmon was removed from the Lake Ontario basin before 1900, by anglers. (COSEWIC Assessment & Status Report on the Atlantic Salmon Salmo salar Lake Ontario population in Canada, 2006, v)

Scales obtained from 2 adult museum specimens indicate an exclusively freshwater growth history, suggesting that the salmon that originally inhabited Lake Ontario was most likely a non-anadromous (freshwater) form (Blair 1938). (COSEWIC Assessment & Status Report on the Atlantic Salmon Salmo salar Lake Ontario population in Canada, 2006, 1)

1820 Henry Scadding came to Toronto in 1820 when he was young. Scadding described Ashbridge’s Bay: Southward in all the distance was a great stretch of marsh with the blue lake along the horizon.  In the summer this marsh was one vast jungle of tall flags & reeds, where would be found the conical huts of the muskrat, & where would be heart at certain seasons the peculiar gulp of the Bittern.[34]

“…skiffs & canoes, log & birchbark, were to be seen putting in, weighed heavily down with fish, speared or otherwise taken during the preceding night in the Lake, bay, or neighbouring river.

“…a wide & clean gravelly beach with a convenient ascent to the cliff above.  Here on fine mornings at the proper season skiffs & canoes, log & birchbark, were to be seen putting in, weighed heavily down with fish, speared or otherwise taken during the preceding night in the Lake, bay, or neighbouring river.  Occasionally a huge sturgeon would be landed, one struggle of which might suffice to upset a small boat.  Here were to be purchased in quantities salmon, pickerel, masquelonge, whitefish & herrings, with the smaller fry of perch, bass, & sunfish.  Here too would be displayed unsightly catfish, suckers, lampreys, & other eels; & sometimes lizards, young alligators [mud puppies i.e. salamanders]  for size.[35]

“Several of his sons [Hewards], while pursuing their legal & other studies, became also ‘mighty hunters’–distinguished, we mean, as enthusiastic sportsmen.  Many were the exploits reported of them in this line… the marshes about Ashbridge’s Bay & York harbour itself all abounded with wild fowl.  Here loons of magnificent size used to be seen & heard; & vast flocks of wild geese, passing & re-passing high in air in their periodical migrations.  The wild swan, too, was an occasional frequenter of the ponds of the Island.”[36]

1820 Charles Stuart: Marshy & swampy situations should be particularly avoided, if possible; & where altogether unavoidable, the house should be built as remote from them, as consistent with any tolerable degree of convenience in other respects.

The wood about the dwelling should be immediately & entirely cleared away:  no branches or logs being left, as is very universally the case, to gather & preserve stagnant & putrifying moisture.[37]

1825 Howison visited Canada before 1825: The town of York is situated on the shore of Lake Ontario, & has a large bay in front of it, which affords good anchorage for small vessels. The land all round the harbour & behind the town is low, swampy, & apparently of inferior quality; & it could not be easily drained, as it lies almost on a level with the surface of the lake. The town, in which there are some good houses, contains about 3000 inhabitants. There is but little land cleared in its immediate vicinity, & this circumstance increased the natural unpleasantness of its situation. The trade of York is very trifling; & it owes its present population & magnitude entirely to its being the seat of government; for it is destitute of every natural advantage except that of a good harbour.[38]

1825 Paul Kane (1810-1871) recalled his boyhood in York when he saw “as many as 100 light-jacks gliding about the Bay of Toronto”.[39]

1830 Mostly Irish commercial fishery.

1831 Joseph Bouchette, wrote: [The] Credit, Etobicoke, Humber, & Don rivers, flowing into Lake Ontario, are the most worthy of particular mention. They in general abound with excellent fish, & especially salmon, great quantities of which are annually speared in the river Credit for the supply of the western country. Besides these rivers, a great number of “creeks” of considerable importance discharge their streams into the lake[40]

The formation of the peninsula itself is extraordinary, being a narrow slip of land, in several places not more than sixty yards in width, but widening towards its extremity to nearly a mile.  It is principally a bank of sand, slightly overgrown with grass.  The widest part is very curiously intersected by many large ponds, that are the continual resorts of large quantities of wild fowl.  A few trees scattered upon it greatly increases the singularity of its appearance:  it lies so low that the wide expanse of Lake Ontario is seen over it.  The termination of the peninsula is called Gibraltar Point, where a blockhouse has been erected.  A lighthouse at the western extremity of the beach has rendered the access to the harbor safely practicable by night.  The eastern part of the harbor is bounded by an extensive marsh, through which the River Don runs before it discharges itself into the basin.” [41]

1832 William Gooderham & his brother-in-law James Worts, established a flour mill operation. Their windmill =  the lakefront’s chief survey point. A wooden still was soon raised by the windmill.

1833 Bonnycastle map of Ashbridge’s Bay: “…this shore is a marshy meadow with deep runs of water…this sandy ridge extends for 3 miles & the space between it & the bank is a deep swamp, full of intricate channels & extensive bonds through which the Don finds an outlet by a breach in the sands at the N.E. corner.”[42] Bonnycastle’s map showed: “White & herring fishery established along this shore.” The lake & bay were dangerous with shifting shoals & tricky currents.[43]

1834 York was renamed Toronto.

1835 Richard Bonnycastle suggested building an underground sewer main along the harbour front into the Don, & from there into Ashbridge’s marsh.

1837 Gooderham & Worts sold a gallon of whiskey to residents & innkeepers for 50 cents & within 7 years whiskey sales reached an astonishing 241,000 litres a year.

1839 Anna Jameson described Ashbridge’s Bay: “… a mere swamp, a tangled wilderness, the Birch, the Hemlock, & the Tamarack trees,  were growing down to the water’s edge, & even into the lake.”[44]

1842 The Canadian Naturalist in 1881 described the marsh:  In 1842, many of the large Canadian marshes were teeming with geese, duck, snipe & plover indigenous to the country.  Toronto marsh was then a good shooting ground, & many birds which regularly visited it at that time are considered of rare occurrence to-day. A large Black Bass … then had its habitat in Ashbridge’s Bay, & many a fine 20 lb. fish of this species did Joe Lang spear in its surrounding marshes.[45]

1846 According to an 1846 military sketch, Ashbridges Bay had a maximum depth of 8 to 10 feet (2.5-3 metres) (Stinson, 1990:56). The marsh itself was located on the west side of the open water of Ashbridges Bay; at its maximum point, it extended as far east as the present alignment of Leslie Street (Ibid:57). … the Don River originally had 2 main channels through the delta on the western edge of the marsh. A long channel exited from the centre of the marsh. A short high water channel turned westward without entering the marsh.

1848 The number of citizens is becoming few indeed who remember Toronto Bay when its natural surroundings were still undefaced & its waters pure & pellucid. From the French Fort to the Don River, curving gently in a circular seep, under a steep bank forty feet high covered with luxuriant forest trees, was a narrow sandy beach used as a pleasant carriage-drive, much frequented by those residents who could boast private conveyances. A wooden bridge spanned the Don & the road was continued thence, still under the shade of umbrageous trees, almost to Gibraltar Point on the west, & past Ashbridge’s Bay eastward. At that part of the peninsula, forming the site of the present east entrance, the ground rose at least 30 feet above high-water mark, & was crested with trees. Those trees & that bank were destroyed through the cupidity of city builders, who excavated the sand & brought it away in barges to be used in making mortar.  This went on unchecked till about the year 1848, when a violent storm—almost a tornado– from the east swept across the peninsula, near Ashbridge’s Bay, where it had been denuded of sand nearly to the ordinary level of the water. This aroused public attention of the danger of further neglect.[46]

1850 Sandford Fleming studied the movement of the sand-bars & calculated that twelve ha had been added to the western section of the sand-bars over the previous 50 years.

1850 One writer reported fishing for salmon in Ontario by jack-lighting:  “One of the most exciting amusements at this season of the year, is salmon-fishing.  In order to enjoy this sport, I made a canoe sixteen feet in length, & 2 feet 9 inches at its greatest breadth.

Salmon-fishing commences in October, when the fish run up the rivers & creeks in great numbers. The usual way of catching them is by spearing, which is done as follow.–An iron grate–or jack, as it is called by the Canadians–is made in the shape of a small cradle, composed of iron bars 3 or 4 inches apart.  This cradle is made to swing in a frame, so that it may be always on the level, or the swell would cause the pine-knots to fall out. Fat pine & light-wood are used to burnin the jack, which give a very brilliant light for several yards roung the bow of the canoe. The fish can be easily seen at the depth of from 4 to five feet. One person sits in the stern & steers with a paddle, propelling the canoe at the same time. The bowman either kneels or stands up with the spear poised ready for striking. An expert hand will scarcely miss a stroke. I have known 2 fishermen in this manner kill upwards of 2 hundred salmon in one night. I believe, however, that the fishing is not nearly so productive as formerly.

30 years ago, all the small streams & rivers, from the head of the lake downwards to the Bay of Quinte, used to abound with salmon. The erection of saw-mills on the creeks, & other causes, have tended materially to injure the fisheries. White fish & salmon-trout are, however, taken in vast quantities, particularly the former, which has become quite an article of commerce….Lake Ontario abounds with herring, of much the same flavour as the sea species, but not so strong & oily, nor so large. Sturgeon, pike, pickerel, black bass, sheep-heads, mullets, suckers, eels, & a variety of other fish, are plentiful in these waters: the spring-creeks & mill-ponds yield plenty of spotted trout, from 4 ounces to a pound weight; they are easily caught either with the worm or fly.[47]

1850-1910 stonehooking — the removal of aggregate materials from the lake bottom for use in construction — was a major force in changing physical conditions & shoreline processes. During this time period, 1 million cubic metres of materials were removed from Toronto Harbour alone — enough to cover the entire waterfront from Etobicoke Creek to the Rouge River with a layer 1 metre thick & extending 25 metres offshore, as shown below. As a consequence of the loss of aggregate materials, large amounts of valuable aquatic habitat disappeared, & the shoreline was exposed to accelerated erosion. Stonehooker fleet based in Port Credit, Bronte, Frenchman’s Bay e.g. The stonehooker “Swallow”, a sailing vessel: “In the latter half of the thirties, when York was getting accustomed to her new name Toronto, this vessel was simply an open scow, carrying sand from the Island to fill in the water front near where the old jail–the third one–was shortly afterwards erected.” John Ross Robertson According to the marine historian and journalist, C. H. J. Snider, the taking of stone off the Scarborough Highlands (bluffs) was so extensive that signs were posted imploring stonehooking captains not to take stone from that area in order to prevent further erosion.

Victoria Park: Peter Paterson leased +5 ha of country estate, Blantyre, to a company to develop Victoria Park.  Highly successful. Visitors by sail, steam or streetcar.  An observation tower, dancing pavilion, picnic facilities, rides, fishing, a zoo & a shipwreck the stonehooker Zebra, wrecked 1897). Opened in 1878. Sports. Camping. Well known mineral spring.  Ravine known as Lover’s Walk. TRC took over operation 1900 & stopped camping, became picnic grounds.  Sold in 1906 & subdivided. Owner, Henry P. Eckardt, let Toronto Board of Education use Victoria Park as an outdoor school.  Forest school to prevent health problems & improve child’s development.  Nature instruction & 3 Rs, hygiene, etc.  Ran June to Sept at Victoria Park until 1932. Eatons also ran employees camp 1917-1927.  1923 City of Toronto expropriated Victoria Park to build waterworks.[48]

1850 to 1911 control of the Toronto harbour was divided between a Harbor Trust, railway companies, the City of Toronto, & private landowners.  The harbour was put under the control of a Board of Commissioners. The chairman was nominated by the government, 2 members by the City Council, & 2 by the Board of Trade. Controlling the chairman, the Government controlled the harbour & of the harbour dues.[49]  Samuel Thompson was a Commissioner: In the spring of 1849, the chairman of the Harbour commission was Col. J.G. Chewett, a retired officer I think of the Royal Engineers; the other members were Ald. Geo. W. Allan & myself, representing the City Council; Messrs. Thomas D. Harris, hardware merchant, & Jno. G. Worts, miller, nominees of the Board of Trade. I well remember accompanying Messrs. Allan, Harris & Worts round the entire outer beach, on wheels & afoot, & a very pleasant trip it was. The waters on retiring had left a large pool at the place where they had crossed, but no actual gap then existed. Our object was to observe the extent of the mischief, & to adopt a remedy if possible. Among the several plans submitted was one by Mr. Sandford Fleming, for carrying out into the water a number of groynes or jetties, so as to intercept the soil washed down.[50]

1850 Tiny creeks that we hardly think could support minnows were valuable salmon streams. This 1850 description of a similar small stream demonstrates this: Mr. Stephens showed me a small stream runing through his farm, which I could easily jump over. He told me that one afternoon he was watering his horses, when he perceived a shoal of salmon swimming up the creek.  He had no spear at home, having lent it to a neighbour.  He, however, succeeded with a pitchfork in capturing fifty-6 fine fish. [51]

These little creeks or brooks were fed by springs gushing out of the gravel & sand wherever water met impermeable layers of clay.  They provided valuable spawning grounds for Atlantic salmon & brook trout & native peoples & settlers fished this brooks.  All these creeks are now underground forming part of the sewer system.[52] In the little valleys, with their rich-soiled floodplains, terraces would have formed. Trees growing there would have included:  black willows, peach-leafed willows & sycamores along with black walnut.[53]

1852 Arrival of the railroad. Toronto was the biggest port on Lake Ontario in 1852 when Ontario’s first railroad, the Ontario, Simcoe & Huron Union Railroad.  The demand for an improved harbour was persistent through the latter half of the nineteenth century.

1853 The forest had good timber:  oak & pine on the dry sandy soil, & maple & beech, on the clayey soils closer to the lake & in the bottom of the ravine.  Experienced settlerschose their land (if they had a choice) often on the basis of what kind of timber grew there. Much of the area was sandy, but they chose land with a lot of clay & heavily timbered. White pine, or hemlock ridges, are almost always sandy, & good for little – except the timber, which is valuable, if near enough to water.  White-pine mixed with hard-wood generally indicates strong clay land, good for wheat…[54]

1853 Engineer, W. Shanly wanted to cut a  channel for the Don though the Ashbridge marsh into the lake to scour out the Don. Another engineer, Hind, suggested channeling the City’s sewage into the marsh where it would “become inoffensive, being consumed by vegetation.”[55]

1854 Ice! Ice!! Ice!!! The Undersigned begs to return his best thanks to his customers, for the liberal patronage he has received for the last 9 years, & to announce that he has enlarged & added to the number of his Ice Houses, having now 4 which are filled with pure & wholesome Spring Water Ice, from Yorkville. He is prepared to supply the same to consumers, by contract or otherwise, during the season, commencing from the 1st of June next. The Ice will be conveyed by waggon daily, to places within 6 miles of Toronto. All orders sent to Thomas F. Cary, hairdresser, Front Street, 2 doors from Church Street, will be punctually attended to. R.B. Richards, Toronto April 19, 1854.[56]

1854 Sandford Fleming, in 1854, said: All the drains & sewers empty into the [Toronto] Bay, making it, in truth, the grand cesspool for a population of 30,000 inhabitants with their horses & cattle.[57]  Fleming proposed diverting the Don directly into Ashbridge’s Bay, making it “an effective conduit for the sewage of the city.”[58] Engineers tried to solve the twin problems of sewage disposal & obtaining clean drinking water without treating the sewage.

1854 Thomas Cary & Richard B. Richards opened 4 ice houses. Apparently some came from springs; some from Ashbridge’s Bay:

1855 A winter gale blasted a 50 yard wide gap in the bank to a depth of 3 feet, but this “cut” was not permanent.

1855 In Leslieville “water rats” clustered south of Kingston Road on Laing Street & Lake Street (now Knox). According to J. McPherson Ross:  Quite a colony of fishermen lived nearby, among whom we remember the names of Doherty, Laings, Marsh, Goodwin, Crothers & others who, if not fishermen, were duck-hunters or trappers. Or they also enjoyed the boating, fishing, & bathing privileges which were here in all their primeval abundance & purity of nature becoming soiled & destroyed by the sewage & filth of the encroaching city.[59]

1856 Thomas Cary married Mary Ann Shadd, the publisher of the Provincial Freeman.

1857 Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) formulated the “germ theory”. The fact that bacteria cause infectious diseases is one of the foundations of modern medicine.[60]

1858 In 1853 John Quinn succeeded the Privats at the hotel on the sandbar.  Another storm on April 13, 1858 opened a gap that was permanent, wiping out Quinn’s Hotel (formerly the Peninsula or Privat’s Hotel) in the process.[61]  Mrs. Quinn was alone with small children as the nor’easter tore the hotel apart & huge waves ate up the beach.  Quinn arrived in morning & moved his family to safer ground. Parkinson’s Hotel was also washed away by the opening of the Eastern Gap. Here is a description of the storm:

Between 4 & five o’clock yesterday morning, the waters of the lake completely swept over a large section of the Island, entirely carrying away Quinn’s Hotel & its appertainances, along with the excuse for a breakwater, erected by the Harbour Commissioners, & making a permanent Eastern Entrance to the Harbour, some 500 yards wide.  The gale which led up to the partial washing away of the Island sprung up about five o’clock on Monday evening, & was then of such violence as to cause serious fears that the hotel would be blown down.  The lake gained steadily on the Island & the Hotel until about 4 o’clock in the morning when the Hotel was completely swept away & a very wide entrance to our harbour–some 4 or five feet deep–was opened through the Island.  In anticipation of such an event, Mr. Quinn erected a small building west of the Hotel into which he barely had time to move his family, & a small portion of his furniture before his former residence was borne away by the waves.  He is said to be a very heavy loser.[62]

At first the channel was 4-5 feet deep, but by May 30, the Eastern Gap was broad enough for the schooners to pass through.[63]

After the great storm of 1858, the fishermen relocated elsewhere on the Island. “Mr. Hanlan, sr., at first lived in a house down near the Eastern Gap.  During a terrific gale this place was washed away by the roaring waters of the lake.  As soon as the storm was over the family, nothing daunted, gathered their scattered timbers together, built a raft, on which they placed their property, & drifted up the bay, with a fair east wind.  They chanced to ground at the present Hanlan’s Point, & here they built their home & left a name.”[64]

Some of the more puritanical Torontonians may have been tempted to see this as a punishment for the gambling, drinking & fighting that were trademarks of Island hotels at this time.[65] Another storm opened the Eastern Gap to 500 yards wide & 10 feet deep.

1859 Gooderham & Worts a new series of buildings. The windmill already had been abandoned for steam power & torn down, but now a new steam powerhouse was built alongside a new distillery. The distillery alone cost 25,000 pounds to build & was made of one-metre thick limestone blocks chiseled out of Kingston quarries. The new operation could produce 35,000 litres of spirits a day.

1860 Gooderham & Worts 1860 pump house which fought the great fire has had its original steam engines replaced with gasoline ones. The stables are a car park. The 1860 office functioned as a lunch room. Some of the old buildings have new functions, such as one used for refurbishing drums for industrial alcohol.

1863 John McPherson Ross described it: Ashbridge Bay…was a beautiful sheet of water when I first saw it in the summer of 1863, & was clean & good enough to drink, abounding in fish, & was the haunt of numerous wild fowl all summer.  In the stormy, rainy fall, it was alive with wild ducks of all kinds that came to rest on their southern flight & to feed on plentiful masses of wild rice that grew in numerous patches. The marsh covered the shallow waters of the eastern part of the bay at the commencement of the sand bar by the foot of Woodbine avenue, as this roadway is now called. When the racetrack of that name was first built the marsh growth ended where the deep water started, & began again intermittently a little west of Leslie street. It was quite a fine sheet of water, & at the time of speaking the lake had made a cut at about the size of the present entrance.[66]

1865 to 1882, James G. Worts, son of James Worts, a founder of the distillery, was chair of the Harbor Trust.

1869 Gooderham & Worts a fire broke out in a fermenting room & quickly spread throughout the network of buildings. By morning more than $100,000 in damage had been done & many buildings were destroyed.

1870 Compared to the huge shooting areas in the other parts of Canada, Toronto Harbour is like a pinpoint under a microscope. The microscope, however, captures such a great number of hunters, market gunners, guides, & sportsmen, & such an enormous number of decoys were used & made, that Toronto has become the epicenter of the most famous & most treasurer Canadian decoys.

The waterfowl were drawn by the marshlands of Ashbridges Bay to the east of Toronto Harbour, about five miles long by a mile wide. Protected by the sandy dunes of Fishermans Island, this was “the naturalist paradise” as described in 1870 by Ernest Thompson Seton. Seton sketched a map of the bay in that year, & it & other contemporary outlines show the cottages & boathouses that dotted the shorelines & indicated the guidelines for the hunters in the marshes – “Knock ‘em Point,” “Lily-Pad Pond,” & “Catfish Joe’s.”[67]

Ernest Thompson Seton recalled Catfish Joe Lang who actually lived on an island in Catfish Pond: Catfish Joe’s island…was some 3 or 4 feet above high-water level, & was the home of the wild recluse called Catfish Joe. He did some shooting but was more of a fisherman; & always in case of shortage he could drop a line in the right place to land a mess of catfish.  He had a few hens on this island. A friend of his from the old country was visiting him once, & intended to stay a couple of days; but was soon nauseated by the bill of fare. Everything smelled & tasted of fish. Finally Old Joe, noticing his unrelish, said, “How would you like a couple of aigs?’ “sure thing,” said his friend, delighted at the chance to get a change from the fish taste. But, alas, when the eggs were served, they were the eggs of hens that were fed chiefly on fish scraps, & those eggs were just as strong as rank old catfish could make them.[68]

1872 The Ontario Government passed an Act enabling the City of Toronto to build waterworks.

1872 Aug. 27 A Good Haul –A party of 7 gentlemen went off on a fishing excursion yesterday to Ashbridge’s Bay, & returned with some of the finest salmon trout ever caught in the Lake. One of them weighted between 7 & 8 pounds, & 6 together forty pounds.[69]

1875 The City took over the existing water works & the new waterworks were built on Toronto Island near the Lighthouse.  A basin 500 feet long & 150 feet wide was dug & 4,000,000 gallons of water filled it naturally, infiltrating through the sand.  This was pumped under the Bay by a pumping station between John & Peter & distributed by mains to consumers.[70]

1878 The Christie Brothers started the Don Rowing Club, using an empty house on Overend Street (then Vine Street) as a clubhouse. William Laing of Leslieville & other local boat builders sold the rowing clubs skiffs (a one-person boat) & clinchers (another old-fashioned clinker-built boat).  “The Dons” built a new club house at Morley Road.[71]

1879 1879-80 was an ice boom year due to a warm winter. Scarcity of ice was expected. “Ashbridge’s Bay & the Don supplied nearly all consumed in Toronto.”

1879 City looked for ways to get rid of its every mounting human excrementKivas Tully, C.E., in an 1879 report to the Harbour Commissioners, proposed diverting the Don to carry sewage directly into Ashbridge’s Bay.

1880 All was not work for the commercial fishermen.  It was common a century ago for commercial fishermen, including, probably, those of Leslieville, to wash down their boats & gear. They would then take their families out in their little fishing schooners for a cruise on the Lake – after church, of course![72]

1880 In the 1880s, according to an undated, anonymous manuscript in the Toronto Public Library, In the early days of Leslieville, there was a big ice house owned by the Sedgwicks. It was where the junction Leslie & Eastern Ave. is now [near the Loblaws Superstore].  The pilings near the ice house were excellent perches for fishing.  The usual catch included sunfish, perch, bass & catfish, all warm water species that would be expected in a marsh or pond.  As well, fishing was an active industry in the Bay right up until the Bay’s disappearance under landfill. Local residents sometimes ignored fishing regulations & Fishery Inspectors toured Ashbridge’s Bay from time to time, seizing nets.

1880 Leslieville’s residents turned to Ashbridge’s Bay for sports & recreation. On Saturday commercial fishermen washed down their boats & gear. On Sunday afternoon they took their families out in their little fishing schooners for a cruise on the Lake. People sang as they sailed over Ashbridge’s Bay; the tunes could be heard on shore. In winter people skated & sailed iceboats.  Boys played shinny with sticks they made themselves out of a curved piece of wood. Instead of a puck, they used a ball of frozen horse manure (a “horse puckey”). Men laid out racetracks on the ice & crowds attended these horse races. Vendors sold hot food from little wooden shacks. Whiskey & beer, cheap & strong, flowed freely – at a price. In summer rowing was popular.

1880 In the 1880s when the Lower Don River was straightened & channelized & the Government Breakwater was constructed to prevent effluent & marsh material from invading Toronto harbour from Ashbridges Bay. [73]

1880 Ashbridge’s Bay steadily became more polluted with sewage & run-off from Gooderhams cow byres. The worst ice was used for refrigeration while cleaner ice was used for drinks & to make ice cream. Dirty ice helped cause the typhoid epidemics that ravaged Toronto. There was growing concern over pollution from Gooderham’s barns at the mouth of the Don. From 1866, Gooderham & Worts distillery pumped mash, left over from whiskey making, in a pipe across the Don & fed it to thousands of cattle penned in barns. Neighbours complained of the stench. Raw manure, as well as offal, poured into the Don from a slaughterhouse, from William Davies’ pork packing plant, soap factory & a tannery. However, the main source was Gooderham & Worts whose liquid manure ran off into Brown’s Pond, Ashbridge’s Bay, forming pools of stinking semi-solid waste that crusted over so that men could & did walk upon. Falling through & drowning in the foulness was a constant risk. The distillery planted rows of trees, Gooderham’s Grove, to hide the sight from passersbys on Kingston Road.

1880 Cutting ice was important seasonal employment. The ice harvest began in January when the ice was thick enough. The ice companies shipped it by rail car even to the U.S. Ice houses had to be near railways: Work went on night & day when the markets were most favourable & signs of an approaching thaw made their appearance. … As much as $1,200 to $1,500 profit were made off ponds an acre or 2 in extent. Every available railway car was brought into service for the conveyance of ice, & yet a sufficient number were not to be had to meet the demand.[74]  Men sawed the ice into blocks & packed it in sawdust in ice houses that lined Ashbridge’s Bay.

When the ice got to be 6 to 8 inches, then the icemen appeared & several parties would commence the winter harvest. Great ice-houses in those days lined the bay at convenient spots for floating in the crystal blocks. This continued for several weeks, & was a busy time while it lasted. They generally saved all that the modest city required in those days, & it was not till the mild winter of 1880-81 that efforts were made to secure ice, outside, from Lake Simcoe, for the usual supply. Ice was cut, though, for many years afterwards till it was finally stopped by the city officials as being unfit for use. Up till then crowds of men & teams were kept busy in the operations of the ice harvest by the different companies engaged in that business. [75]

Ice cutting was profitable, but low paying dangerous work. Men & horses drowned when they fell through the ice. Icemen lost their way in white-outs, to die of hypothermia. Woodbine Ice Company’s owner William Booth nearly drowned while out on the ice on a Sunday. Some likely thought he was being taught a lesson for working on the Sabbath.

1881 Ernest Thompson Seton, famous naturalist, reported: Dec. 3. I went collecting with J. McPherson Ross, superintendent of Leslie’s Nurseries, an old art school friend of mine, who is still living in Toronto.  We collected some Tree Sparrows. Later, I went to Lang’s cottage on the shore, borrowed his telescope & studied the sandy bar on Ward’s Island. There were several hundred Gulls, a few of them Saddlebacks [Greater Black-backed Gulls], &, sitting on the ice, a very large bird which turned out to be a fine Golden Eagle.[76] Seton shot the eagle.

Dec 27 1881 The old boundaries of the City of Toronto established in 1834 included “a strip running south-east of King-street along the lake shore for a further distance eastward of 3 & a half miles.” This was called the “Liberties”. The south side of Kingston Road (Queen Street East) in was in the City of Toronto, therefore, while the north side of Kingston Road was in the Township of York. Taxation was higher in Toronto &, in 1881, the Globe described the results:

The effect of it was that many persons, after their day’s work was done, walked out the city limits to sleep in the territory conveniently left at just the right distance to constitute a good morning & evening’s walk, & city was deprived of proper subjects for taxation. It may do for a few years, while the community is yet in a village state, to put off the water, sewerage, & other questions. But as the population increases the soil becomes saturated with sewage, the wells receive contamination, substantial highways must be constructed, the streets must be lighted, police protection must be given, an expensive fire establishment must be kept in efficient order, & many of the costly necessaries must be provided.  As each new cause of outlay comes up, the taxes of the municipality come up likewise. [77]

By the1880s calls were loud for Leslieville to join the City of Toronto, though some were against it. Amalgamation with the City of Toronto offered Leslieville sewers & drains; treated water delivered by mains from the City waterworks; a professional fire department instead of volunteers; better police protection; reduced fire insurance rates; improved roads & no ore tollgates; & lower postage rates. Plans were afoot to absorb about 4,000 acres of Riverside & Leslieville to the City:

“As to the eastern enlargement, it is undoubtedly to the interest of the people of Riverside, Todmorden, Leslieville, etc., to come in to the city.  If they refuse to see it, nobody desires to compel them to come in. Let them wait until the increase of their taxation or the want of accommodation induces them to seek for union.”[78]

1882 January Cutting ice was important seasonal employment in a society that had no unemployment insurance. It “provides a living for thousands”.[79] The ice harvest began in January.

1882 Jan 18 They sawed the ice into blocks & packed the ice in sawdust in ice houses that lined the north shore of Ashbridge’s Bay.  They put evergreen trees & branches in the holes in the ice to mark it so that no one would stumble in & drown.  Ice men even worked at night cutting blocks from the Don, near Eastern Avenue bridge, by lantern light.[80]

1882 Feb 4 About 400 men & 120 teams worked on the ice harvest. The total supply of ice cut was more than 75,000 tons, about 20,000 of which was stored for export by boat. “The quantity harvested on the Don & Ashbridge’s Bay will therefore be greater than in any previous season.”[81]

“Its quiet waters, noted for their purity, had become coated with a sheet 10 to twelve inches in thickness, & when several American appeared on the scene & commenced harvesting the residents of the Lake Simcoe towns took the hint, ands some of them made thousands of dollars by the boom.” [82]

“The quantity harvested on the Don & Ashbridge’s Bay will therefore be greater than in any previous season.”[83]

“The remainder of the city’s supply will chiefly come from Ashbridge’s Bay & the Don. The ice of the latter, as may well be imagined, is exceedingly impure & is not used for drinking purposes. The breweries, butchers, & fish dealers use it in great quantities, owing to the convenience of obtaining it there.” [84]

“Work went on night & day when the markets were most favourable & signs of an approaching thaw made their appearance.” … “As much as $1,200 to $1,500 profit were made off ponds an acre or 2 in extent. Every available railway car was brought into service for the conveyance of ice, & yet a sufficient number were not to be had to meet the demand.”[85]

Frozen water had to be near railways to be valuable for the ice trade. [86]

1882 March 17  Ashbridge’s Bay ice men adamantly denied that Ashbridge’s Bay ice was impure.[87]

1882 May 31 one man shot 33 ducks on Ashbridge’s Bay in about 3 hours.[88]  Hunting, like fishing, was both a sport & a business. Wildfowl used the marsh as a staging area during spring & fall migration.  Professional gunners shot geese, ducks & shorebirds & both market gunners & sportsmen shot prodigious numbers of birds. Hunters used dogs, wooden decoys (now collectors’ items) & blinds as well as punts specially rigged for extra-large shotguns.

Even songbirds were not safe. Gunners shot swallows off the telegraph wires for sale at the St. Lawrence Market. Even naturalists shot birds.

1882 July 18 From early in the 1880s the question of annexation was a concern for residents of Leslieville who felt they suffered from a lack of adequate police protection & the “neglect of any sanitary precaution” (ie. well water, outhouses, & septic tanks only & no piped & treated water & no sewers).[89]

1882  July 20 “Mr. W. Laing, the well-known fisherman, caught an eel yesterday morning weighing within an ounce or 2 of thirteen pounds.”[90]

1882 July 29 “Mr. John Ayre, of Winchester street, caught five very fine pike & 4 black bass, varying from 3 lbs. to 5 lbs. in weight, in Ashbridge’s bay early yesterday morning.”[91]

Aug 16 1882 Torontonians were concerned about contaminated drinking water. They knew they needed better ways of disposing of human waste than dumping it in the ground or dumping in the water. Different schemes were proposed, all of which involved piping the waste further & further out into the lake to remove “all possibility of annoyance from the exhalations arising from sewage.”[92]

The hope was that the sewage would rot in the water & the fish would eat it. Whatever was left over after the water had done its magic & the fish had their suppers, would settle to the bottom of the lake, harmless. The main sewage outlet was at the foot of Yonge Street in the 1880s, allowing the untreated waste to back up around the wharves & piers, where it just sat & sat.

In the daytime the Yonge-street sewer can be detected by the smell for only a few rods. At night of course, as along the whole water front at present, an offensive …odour will prevail… [93]

Ashbridge’s Bay would be the perfect place for the sewage to go:

The sewage, diluted & carried out by the Don into Ashbridge’s Bay, enters a large expanse of comparatively calm water, where deposition of offensive matter must proceed more rapidly than in the rough waters of the lake. After remaining in the bay generally for a long…a portion of the thoroughly diluted sewage will pass through Ashbridge’s gap into the lake…[94]

The City planned on putting the creeks that flowed into the lake underground in pipes, as sewers. The water pressure created by the flow of creeks would carry the waste of the city downhill to the waterfront where an east-west main would carry it further along to where it could be piped out either into the Bay or the Don River. The dilution of the waste would supposedly render it tasteless &, if tasteless, harmless.[95]

The thorough mixing of the sewage with the water takes place but gradually, & might not be completed before the bay would be reached. But there, at any rate, the sewage would become wholly deodorized on mixing with an expanse of 900 acres of water from 6 to 20 feet deep, & being constantly interchanged with the water of the open lake. Danger to the health of Toronto, or of annoyance to the noses of its inhabitants, is therefore not to be feared from the discharge of the city sewage into the Don & therein through the 313 million cubic feet of water in Ashbridge’s Bay into Lake Ontario.[96]

In the 1880s most of the human waste of Toronto was deposited directly into Toronto Harbour where it backed up into the slips & generally remained within 300 feet of the Esplanade. The desire to get rid of it as strong as the smell of the sewage

As early as 1835 Richard Bonnycastle suggested building an underground sewer main along the harbour front into the Don, & from there into Ashbridge’s marsh. In 1853, engineer W. Shanly wanted to cut a channel for the Don though the Ashbridge marsh into the lake to scour out the Don. Another engineer, Hind, suggested channeling the City’s sewage into the marsh where it would “become inoffensive, being consumed by vegetation.” Sandford Fleming proposed diverting the Don, by closing the river’s mouth & channeling the river through Ashbridge’s Bay, making the Don & Ashbridge’s Bay “an effective conduit for the sewage of the city.”[97]

In the 1880s it was hoped that the market gardeners of Leslieville would be able to use much of the sewage sludge for irrigation of their sandy soil. Raw sewage could be pumped uphill & carried by a main sewer to the east end of Leslieville. Farmers could use it & the City of Toronto might even make a profit from its waste. Apparently, in Britain, raw sewage had been used for fertilizer for centuries. Toronto could hope to do the same, if the costs could be bought down:

The average of 20 towns shows an acre of irrigated land for every 111 inhabitants. One ace to 150 inhabitants is the utmost extent to which it is advisable to carry irrigation. Toronto, with its present urban & suburban population of 100,000 would require 666 acres. The expense of preparing the land for irrigation has near several British cities exceeded £70 per acre. For many years to come, therefore, irrigation will not be resorted to in this country.  Should it ever become desirable, a suitable sewage pump can be erected at the Don mouth.[98]

In the meantime there was always Ashbridge’s Bay:

Another, & much more feasible scheme, is the turning of the sewage into the marsh. To effect this a reservoir & pumping house would be requisite. As the elevation would not require to be great, a couple of engines, capable of meeting extraordinary requirements at times, would be necessary. The sewage could be conducted by pipes to any part of the marsh & there discharged into spaces enclosed by piles. [99]

The Globe even suggested that the street sweepings, ashes, & the like could go into the mix with the sewage.  The street sweepings were being used to create landfill along the Esplanade, gradually moving the City shoreline south one garbage load at a time.[100]

1882 Nov. 5 Funeral for William Greenwood who died November 12, 1882 of typhoid fever. The funeral procession went from the home of his mother Katherine (Kate) on Kingston Road to St. John’s Anglican Church (Norway).  He was a new A.F. & A.M. member & the Masons turned out in full regalia.  “The deceased was a young man of great promise & his funeral was attended by a large concourse of sorrowing relatives & friends.”[101]

Dec. 5 1882 East End Nuisances: There was growing concern over pollution from the extensive cattle byres at the mouth of the Don.  Neighbours complained of offensive smells & “foul emanations” from the Don River & that part of Ashbridge’s Bay.  The GTR had pig pens & fat rendering facilities there. Manure went into the Don from the slaughterhouse as well.  William Davies owned a huge pork packing establishment.  Even though a nearby soap factory, was kept “wholesome”, it also contributed to the problem as did a tannery. It was clear, though, that the main culprit was the cow byres of Gooderham & Worts. The liquid manure run-off went into Brown’s Pond, part of Ashbridge’s Bay. Liquid manure ran off went into Brown’s Pond, part of Ashbridge’s Bay, forming pools of stinking shit.[102]

The present putrid state of the banks of the Don & the bordering marsh, due to years of accumulated organic filth, is doubtless the cause of much of the foul odours which prevail in summer, & is certainly dangerous to the health of the community.” Signed by H. Sproat, City Engineer; E. Coatsworth, City Commissioner; W. Caniff, Medical Health Officer

These gentlemen stressed the need to find another way of disposing of sewage & supported a ban on factories that were dangerous to the public health.[103]

1882 Dec 5 Sewage treatment was an important local concern. As it was, the sewage of Toronto & its suburbs, including Leslieville, either went untreated directly into the lake, creeks or rivers, or seeped into the ground water from privies (outhouses) & septic tanks. Some people began to stress the need to find another way of disposing of sewage & supported a ban on factories that were dangerous to the public health. The solution, many believed, was a trunk sewer that would take the municipal sewage & industrial sewage 6 or 7 miles east where it could be piped far out into Lake Ontario.[104]  It was believed that the oxygen in the water magically purified the sewage without any help. Out of sight, out of mind – until the sewage-bred bacteria of typhoid & other water-borne illnesses came back to kill.

1882 Dec 12 “It would seem as though many of the persons who have contracted for the principal ice-houses in the city have determined to take their material from the very foulest places…the concentrated essence of nastiness…”[105]

1882 Another storm increased the Eastern Gap to 4,000 feet.  Construction began to stabilize the Eastern Gap for shipping.

March 15 1883 Gooderham & Worts had been polluting Ashbridge’s Bay since 1866 when their cattle byre operations were moved from the footing of Trinity Street eastwards over the Don. The raw cattle excrement from their barns or byres on the shore of Ashbridge’s marsh (near the east side of the Don River) flowed by wooden pipes into the wetland.  Several thousand cattle were kept penned there, fattening on the mash from the distillery. The cow manure filled the shallow ponds or lagoons in the marsh, creating a stench that blew into the City when the east winds blew. Gooderham & Worts responded by burying the “vast open cesspools”. The work went on for months. About 200 men with wheelbarrows trundled earth over wooden planks laid over the top of the quaking mass of cow dung. They covered the surface with about 2 feet of soil until it was strong enough, at least in many places, to be walked on although it quaked in wet weather, in some places, threatened to entrap the daring interloper in a disgusting “quick sand”.[106]

1883 March 24 The Committee asked the City Council “to take measures for the removal of the cattle byres on the east side of the don.  It is complained that through the existence of these byres the marsh is becoming nothing better than a cesspool, & Ashbridge’s Bay is rapidly becoming such a collection of filth that no fish will be able to live in it.  There is also a strong opinion that the health of the neighbourhood suffers in consequence of the nuisance.[108]

1883 May 8 John McLatchie, blacksmith & a Orangeman, chaired public meetings held in Leslieville held to discuss the “Cattle Byre nuisance”. McLatchie, the blacksmith & prominent Orangeman, was chair.

“William Laing, the fisherman & boat builder, addressed the meeting. Laing said that if nothing was done about the contamination of Ashbridge’s Bay, people like him would have to sell out & leave.”

Martin McKee & other ice house owners agreed that something had to be done. Leslieville family physician, Dr. Kennedy stated that “the progress of the eastern suburbs was obstructed”.  He clearly saw it as a health issue.  Dr. Kennedy said that he had recently seen 400 dead pike in 460 yards of Ashbridge’s Bay. Others observed that pollution that year had killed fish in the Marsh.[109]

1883 May 17 Gooderham & Worts resisted, pulling every string, bullying, threatening & prevaricating. They claimed that “very little refuse matter flows into the marsh”. George Gooderham was rich, influential & virtually untouchable.[110]

1883 May 17 Local residents asked the City to make a cut to be made in the sandbar that formed the southern edge of the marsh. They hoped this would purify Ashbridges Bay by allowing fresh water to circulate in from the lake & polluted water to drain out.[111]

1883 May 17 Efforts have been made recently to have removed the cattle byres of Messrs. Gooderham & Worts, between the Kingston-road, the marsh, & Ashbridge’s bay, on the east side of the Don. It was stated that the marsh was being filled up with a lot of deleterious matter which came from the byres, but those in charge of the byres deny this statement. They say that very little refuse matter flows into the marsh. The byres are not used during the summer moths, as the cattle are taken in during October & they are removed by the middle of June, when the stables are thoroughly cleaned. During the time the byres are in use every precaution is taken to keep the place free from any accumulation of filth. Contracts are made with a number of market gardeners who reside in the vicinity of Leslieville for the removal of the manure each day. Between 150 & 200 loads of manure are hauled from the byres every 24 hours. The arrangement for flushing is very complete. Water is allowed to flow through the floors of the stables. The 30 men working at the byres are old hands, & have not, they say, found the work detrimental to health. The wages paid to the employees at this place amount to about $20,000 per annum. A GLOBE reporter enquired from a number of inhabitants living on the Kingston-road as to the health of the neighbourhood, & every person spoke to said that in his opinion the byres were perfectly healthy. They all complained, however, of a meat-packing factory near the Don station, which almost sickened the inhabitants of both sides of the Don. [112]

1883 May 22 Poachers sometimes found them up before a Magistrate’s court at the Leslieville Hotel answering to charges of breach of the Fishing & Game Laws.[113]

1883 Oct 18 John Jones moved that a committee be formed to approach City Council for “immediate action”.  The Committee consisted of:  Dr. Kennedy, George Leslie, Sr., J.P., J. Phillips, John McLatchie, Martin McKee, John Jones, Alfred Medcalf, David Hunter, William Laing, Henry Calendar, hotel owner, & J. Knox Leslie.[114]

1883 Oct 30. J.K. Leslie, clerk for York Township, led a delegation to Toronto City Council.  Alderman Pape moved to allow J. Knox Leslie to address Council. He presented a strong argument for cleaning up Ashbridge’s Bay & stopping pollution.  He argued that they City should ban all ice cut on Ashbridge Bay as the ice was so filthy that it was yellow.  Dr. Kennedy then addressed Council, stating that “Ashbridge’s Bay was now nothing but a huge cesspool.”  He argued that there were not 2 laws – one for the rich & one for the poor. Without saying the actual names, he stressed that Gooderham & Worts were not above the law. Kennedy complained that, compared to Riverdale, which was then a prosperous upper middle class suburb, Leslieville had seen little or no improvement. Leslieville had no gaslights & no sidewalks. “Why was it? Because the people were poor; because few cared to live there on account of the nuisance [polluted bay] which existed.’  He spoke of the ice merchants, “Men had risked their all, & now for the sake of one large corporation, these men were to be ruined.”  Alderman Davies moved a motion to refer the matter to the Committee on Health. The motion passed.[115]

1883 Nov 14 As well as wildfowl, local people trapped muskrat & beaver in Ashbridges’ Marsh.  Muskrat-lined coats with beaver collars were prized. People of the day used the muskrat to predict the weather: “The muskrat houses in the vicinity of Ashbridge’s Bay are very small this season, indicating a short & mild winter.”[116]

1883 Nov 14 In a meeting of the Committee on Markets & Health, it was agreed that the bottom of Ashbridge’s Bay was covered with decaying manure & that the byres should not be allowed to dump manure any more.  George Gooderham, owner of the distillery, addressed the meeting, arguing that the problem was not just his byres – others contributed to it too, probably more than his byres.  He was not as bad as some others, he suggested.  He also baldly threatened that, if his byres were forced out, then the distillery would go too & many jobs would be lost & over $20,000 a year in taxes to the City of Toronto would disappear with the distillery.  The Mayor asked the Committee to inspect the byres.[117]

1883 Nov 19 The Committee of Markets & Health visited the cow byres & east end factories, including the Morse soap factory & Davies pork packing plant. George Gooderham & W.H. Beatty lead the Committee on a tour of the cow byres.  Liquid manure from the byres flowed directly into the marsh.  The more solid waste was carted off every day by market gardeners to use on their fields.[118] Given that the polluters were warned in advance, it is not surprising that everything was clean.  However, the drainage of blood, offal & manure into the Don was a problem so obvious that it could not be totally ignored.[119]

1883 December 14, The committee of Leslieville property owners was disillusioned by City Council’s foot dragging & became convince that the City would do nothing for them & that they would have to turn to Ottawa & the Province.[120]

1885 Leslieville men farmed in summer & cut ice in winter, making the best of the seasons.[121]

1885 Death from typhoid: GEORGE COOPER, deceased, was born in England in 1841. In 1846 he came to Canada, & in 1861 began gardening, purchasing 7 acres on Pape s Avenue, where he remained until his death in 1878, since which time his business has been carried on by his widow. In 1861 he married Miss Catharine Manus, by whom he had 7 children.[122]

1887     Experiments in water filtration with sand at the Lawrence Experiment Station in Massachusetts.[123]

March 28 1888 Thomas Davies & J.K. Leslie asked the City to cut a channel through “Fishermen’s Island” into Ashbridge’s Bay. It was hoped that this would wash away the e accumulation of manure & sewage. A committee of alderman was appointed to visit Ashbridge’s Bay & recommend improvements.[126] This committee, consisting of Ald. Drayton, Verral, Gibb, Morrison & Carlyle, was to visit the bay with the city engineer & report as to what is needed from a purely sanitary standpoint.[127]

May 3, 1888 But all was not bliss.  At that time, property owners along a street were expected to pay for any improvement to that street. The cost was not spread out over the taxpayers of the whole city, but loaded onto the shoulders of a few on the grounds that those few were the chief beneficiaries of any improvement. In 1888 Local residents objected to having to pay for the extension of the Queen Street [Kingston-road was now called Queen Street] sewer east to the Toronto Nursery grounds near Pape Avenue. J. K. Leslie chaired the meeting at Poulton’s Hall to plan an appeal against the tax assessment. Others there included Martin McKee, W.B. Poulton, John McLatchie, Edward Blong, Ross Manson, H. Woodrow & J. Smith.[128]

1888 September 8, the city commissioner escorted a party consisting of Mayor Clarke, & some aldermen, along with a Globe reporter, on a tour of Ashbridge’s Bay. The long-awaited channel was being cut from the bay into the lake. “A heavy sea was rolling & an excellent opportunity was afforded of testing the stability of the work. The piece of land cut through was about 160 feet across, & the width of the channel is about 110 feet. 2 piers run out into the lake … 60 feet, & the filling is done chiefly with cedar bark… Already the flow of water from the lake has purified the bay, & when the work is complete it is expected there will be no more complaint about the unsanitary conditions of the neighbourhood.”[129]

1888 Charles Sheard was something of an expert on typhoid, writing articles, for example, for the Canadian Lancet medical journal. The germ theory was well established in the medical community by the last decades of the nineteenth century P. 356-357. The Canadian Lancet: A monthly Journal of Medical & Surgical Science, Criticism & News. Edited by J.I. Davison & Charles Sheard. Vol. XX. Toronto, Dudley & Burns, Printers, 1888.

July 17 1889  City Commissioner Coatsworth developed a plan in 1889 to “improve” Ashbridge’s Bay by filling it in:

“The scheme comprises sanitary & commercial improvement. It proposes to reclaim from 3 hundred to five hundred acres of land which are now covered with shallow water that ripples idly in the sunshine, with perhaps an occasional iridescent tint of sewage upon its playful surface.” [130]

The plan include a canal to link the lake with an improved Don River & an esplanade.

July 17 1889  “ASHBRIDGE’S BAY

CITY COMMISSIONER COATSWORTH, who is favourably known by his past record as a man of judgment as well as a man of integrity, has originated a scheme for the improvement of the shallow lagoon known as Ashbridge’s bay which must commend itself to everyone who gives thoughtful attention to its features. The scheme comprises sanitary & commercial improvement. It proposes to reclaim from 3 hundred to five hundred acres of land which are now covered with shallow water that ripples idly in the sunshine, with perhaps an occasional iridescent tint of sewage upon its playful surface. It conceives the idea of cutting a canal capable of admitting lake-going craft, which shall not only communicate with the improved River Don, but which shall be the entrance to a flourishing esplanade in a place where railway companies shall cease from troubling, & respecting which the citizens may be at rest from alarms of encroachment.

The driving of this broad & deep channel through Ashbridge’s bay will perform incidentally the immense service of establishing a current which will not only purify the bay’s waters to an extent they have not known since the aboriginal bark canoe was frequently launched upon them, but will tend also to purify the not too sweet waters of Toronto harbor.

There are many people in Toronto who know as little of Ashbridge’s bay as they know of ASHBRIDGE. For their information it may be stated that whoever ASHBRIDGE was, the piece of mud & water he gave his name to, has not at present done much for Toronto. & certainly Toronto has not done much for the bay. It has simply served as a receptacle for the inflow of the gradually increasing volume of the sewage of the eastern end of the city. At length, as there was not flow or current through it, the water began to be offensive & insanitary, & last year, under the authority of the Board of Health, Commissioner COATSWORTH cut a channel through the strip of land enclosing it at the east, into the open lake. The result of this, so far as it has gone, has been eminently satisfactory, & has resulted in a considerable purification of the stagnant waters. It has shown that if the proposed canal, running from east to west, be cut, there is a downright certainty that the improvement from a sanitary point of view will be enormous.

If citizens interested in the matter will take the map of Toronto they will see that the land inclosing the bay in question projects in a triangular shape from the general line of the city front, & that at the western end it there is an archipelago containing several islands & peninsulas of low-lying land. Commissioner COATSWORTH proposes to reclaim useful territory. The canal he proposes to cut will take a straight course parallel with the general line of the front of Toronto, & the improved River Don, at is junction with this canal, will take a bend eastward before it joins the new cut. The present devious course of the mouth of the Don to the westward will be left as at present. Thus a current will be established by the waters of the Don, which will flow eastward, & straight out to the opening in the eastern end of the bay which was made last year, & which it is now proposed to enlarge & improve. The sides of the new canal will be strengthened with piling, & the sand dredged out in making the channel will be used to fill up the low-lying lands at the west end of the bay.

 It goes without saying that the scheme is exceedingly popular at the East end, which will be immensely benefited by it. But the possible benefits of it are so great that it may well arrest the attention & engage the good will of the citizens at large. The fact is that Toronto’s advantages in the way of location have been so great that we have been rather careless of them until there has appeared some danger of their being curtailed. The project which we have thus briefly sketched opens a fresh field of enterprise which can be taken advantage of by the city at a very moderate outlay, & its merits, in view of our rapid extension & future probabilities, must cause it to be favourably entertained by every thoughtful mind.[131]

1889 Sept 19  The City Board of Works considered undertaking more up-to-date sewage treatment methods. A Major Mayne, agent for what is called the “Condor” system of sewage purification, tried unsuccessfully to sell the City fathers his technological solution.  Others had sewage schemes as well, but the City dragged its feet, reluctant to undertake the expense involved in a modern sewage treatment system. A small test of the “Porous Carbon” system was tried in the basement of the City Hall, at a cost to the taxpayer of $6,000 to $7,000, but not expanded to a wider application. By this time Garrison Creek was sewer in the West & trunk sewers dumped raw waste into the Don in the East.[132]

1890-1891 the European starling was introduced by a group whom, it is said, wanted to bring all of the birds mentioned in Shakespeare to North America.  They released 100 starlings in New York City in 1890-91, the ancestors of millions spread across North America.

1890 [circa] I have seen thousands of Muskrat houses built in it at one time & am safe to say that as many as 10 to twelve thousand rats would be taken in one spring….It was a problem catching Mud Turtles.  The best way was undressing & taking a sack, walk in the water up to your armpits & when you stepped on a turtle you would duck under, get him, & put him in the sack [sic].  I have taken as many as seventy-give to a hundred in one day in this way & sold them in the market for turtle soup.[133]

Dec 5 1890 In the near future it is likely that the city fathers will try to undertake 2 jobs involving millions of dollars each. These are the running of a street railway system & the reclamation of Ashbridge’s Bay. There are in Toronto a certain number of cranks who want to run everything, when the past effectually bears witness to the fact that where aldermen are, no good ever results. For example, the Don Improvement scheme has given birth to a crop of law suits healthy enough to last a decade. & the work, on account of this, lies in an unfinished state. One thing is certain to sensible men—the Ashbridge Bay scheme should be carried out by a private company merely because such a sum is involved. & as for the Street Railway Senator Smith’s bob-tail cars are a luxury compared to what a civic committee would load on the people.[134]

1890s The City wanted to fill Ashbridge’s Bay with garbage. A number of factories, including paint factories, occupied the landfill & dumped coal tar, oil & other contaminants into the storm sewer system & Bay. Canada Paint, Leslie Street, sat on landfill just south of Eastern Avenue.  It was a major employer as well as polluter from the early 1890s on. Major employers had power. The Bay was expendable. Toxic chemicals, including lead, cobalt, cadmium, arsenic & cyanide, contaminated the water.

1891 The first east end garbage incinerator, the Eastern Avenue Crematory was built. It burned down in 1892.[135]

1891 Sept 12 Ashbridge’s Bay.

Hon. C.F. Fraser, Commissioner of Public Works; Hon. A.S. Hardy, Commissioner of crown Lands, & Hon. J.M. Gibson, Provincial Secretary, received a municipal deputation at the Legislative building yesterday afternoon. Mayor Clarke, who acted as spokesman, was supported by Ald. Leslie, Bell, Pape, Allen, Hall, Macdonald, Burns & Hewitt, Engineer Jennings, Solicitor Biggar, Clerk Blevins & Assistant Littlejohn. Messrs. Beavis & Rodway & several property owners in the east end were also present. The mayor explained the condition of the bay, & claimed that it was imperative that something be done in the matter at once. He asked that the Commissioner of Public Works approve of the work proposed by the city.  Hon. Mr. Fraser said that the title to the land directed that revenues derived from it should go to the support of the Queen’s Park. The Province had now a greater interest than before in the park. The revenue was of great importance, & before giving a decision he would carefully consider the syndicate agreement with his colleagues. He would not object to any reasonable scheme of reclamation, but wished to consider the question of revenue. In reply to the city solicitor, Hon. Mr. Hardy said that if no revenue were derived from the land for 45 years there might be other commissars to deal with. On the suggestion of a property owner that the Legislature undertake the matter, Hon. Mr. Fraser said that the Dominion Government was the only central authority that carried on works of that nature.

After the Ministers had given a promise to consider the agreement at once Al. Hewitt & Leslie complained that the terms were so onerous that no syndicate would tender on them. Engineer Jennings flatly contradicted the statement, saying that the conditions were not as severe as those governing the construction of a sewer or other city contract. Hon. Mr. Fraser said he would not think of interfering with any terms that the city might choose to demand. He was only interest, officially, in the question of Provincial revenue. The deputation then withdrew.[136]

1892 Sep 28 By the 1890s there was greater understanding of the causes of cholera & typhoid &, therefore, focus on prevention. A doctor estimated that there were 12,000 privy pits or outhouses in Toronto. Each contributed to the contamination of the water table, raising the spectre of epidemics.

“The sewage question was of the greatest importance, & should be treated at once by the board [Provincial Board of Health of Ontario]. [Dr. Allen] advised the building of an intercepting trunk sewer, & said he though the introduction of a trunk sewer would do a great deal to obviate the danger arising from cholera. The board passed the following resolution upon this subject: — The Provincial Board of Health desires to emphasize an opinion already expressed, that all privy pits should be abolished in every municiplaity in the province, as it regards these as a most potent factor in the spread of Asiatic cholera & other infectious diseases.”[137]

In the fall of 1892, Council approved an emergency relief plan prepared by City Engineer Edward Henry Keating. The plan called for the construction of a channel running, Keating’s Channel, east-west along the northern perimeter of the marsh, with openings into Toronto Harbour in the west & to Lake Ontario in the east (Coatsworth Cut) to facilitate water circulation through the marsh. The Don would be diverted into the new east-west channel on a line running south of the existing improvements.

1892 Dec 25 “a Christmas Day surprise for the citizens”.  The pipe bringing drinking water in from the Lake under the Bay broke. A long section of pipe floated to the surface of Toronto Harbour.  In 1895 the pipe broke again. Typhoid made the breaks in the pipe & the uncertain purity of the City’s water an urgent topic.

A writer noted that the defects of the system at that time were numerous, & suggested that “the impure quality of the water frequently introduced into the houses &, necessarily, into all domestic uses–drinking, cooking, washing–demands immediate consideration…..The health of the citizens is of the first importance, & it is menaced by the unsanitary water.[138]

1893 The City began building the Keating Channel.[139] The final product, completed in 1893, differed significantly from Keating’s proposal. “Keating’s channel” was dredged to a width of only 90 feet (rather than the 300 feet proposed in his original plan). Coatsworth’s Cut was completed to specifications at the eastern end of Ashbridge’s Bay, but the Don was not diverted into Keating’s channel as proposed. Instead took a dog-leg turn into the Bay. Sedimentation problems huge. Don Improvement Plan made the lower Don essentially a shallow canal. Highly polluted.

Edwin Guillet: “It is of interest here to note that a sewage disposal plant, then to be found only in a few great cities like London, England, was not seriously advocated, but was merely hope to keep sewage away from ‘the marsh at the mouth of the Don’ & from the Island, & to conduct it a mile or so out into the lake.” END OF PIPE SOLUTION.

1893 June 23 On a division it was decided, on motion of Ald. G. Verral, to delay action for 2 weeks until the estimates are passed. A sub-committee was appointed to consider what rent squatters on Ashbridge’s bay shall be required to pay. [140]

Aug 1 1893 Right up until the 1890s, sports fishermen preferred the sheltered waters of Ashbridge’s Bay to the open lake. As the Bay became more polluted apparently the fish stories grew more outrageous. In 1893, a newspaper warned:

Apart from the moral influence of fish stories from Ashbridge’s Bay they will be detrimental to those who promote reclamation schemes on sanitary grounds. Great fish do not shoal in polluted waters.[141]

1894 Jan 18 Gooderham & Worts are shipping 100 car loads of manure from the byres to their Oakville farm.[142]

1894 Jan 23 The ice dealers are watching & praying for more favorable weather for making ice.  Many men who are idle, are also waiting anxiously for colder weather as in that event a good many would be employed cutting & storing ice for the summer.[143]

1894 Feb 14. Low paying & dangerous. Men & horses occasionally fell through the ice & drowned or lost their way in a sudden snow squall, to die of hypothermia. A team drowned & the driver was lost in the storm. Thomas Finn wandered on the ice for hours & his hands were badly frost bit by the time he stumbled into Gooderham’s shanty at the west end of Ashbridge’s Bay.[144]  The Woodbine Ice Company’s owner William Booth, nearly drowned while walking on the Bay on a Sunday. [Some of the Sabbath-loving people of Leslieville may have thought he was being taught a lesson.][145]

1894 March 7 “It is estimated, by those who know, that more ice has been cut & stored in the East End this year than in any former season.”[146]

1894  March 12A horse that was drowned some weeks ago in Ashbridge’s Bay has been allowed to remain in the shallow water & is beginning to decompose.” [147]  “The Canada Paint Company will commence the manufacture of paris green for the coming season next week. A large number of men are at the company’s office almost daily looking for work.”[148]

1894 April 2 The attention of the authorities is directed to the unlawful way in which fish are being caught in Ashbridge’s bay. Several nets are stretched across the eastern & western cuts.[149]

1894 April 13 Seized Fishing Net

Fishery Inspector Ward made a tour of Ashbridge bay yesterday afternoon & seized several nets. He also secured with them splendid pike & many smaller fish.” [150]

1894 April 13 COATSWORTH CUTThe Ashbridge Cut

There is no reason to doubt that Engineer Keating selected the proper spot for the cut through the Ashbridge sand bar.  The western jetty has not been completed, in fact it has scarcely been begun & not enough work has been done on it by Contractor Grant to aid in keeping the channel open, yet the channel is deeper today that it was when dredging was stopped last fall.  The water flows through with quite a current & there is every reason for the belief that the problem of purifying the bay has at last been solved.”[151]

1894 April 13 Seized Fishing Net

Fishery Inspector Ward made a tour of Ashbridge bay yesterday afternoon & seized several nets. He also secured with them splendid pike & many smaller fish.” [152]

1894  May 1Since the new cut has been opened …[it] admits the lake perch & silver bass. Many perch were caught last Saturday.”[153]

1894 May 1 Gooderham’s grove on Queen street is being ploughed & will be seeded down & otherwise beautified.[154]

1894 Aug. 3 Although not scientists, the “water rats” of Ashbridge’s Bay made the connection between bad drinking water, typhoid & the health of the Bay. They fought for years against politicians refused to accept the germ theory. A local resident told City Council:  “That’s where the microbes breed” & Alderman John Hallam replied, “Microbes? fiddlesticks.”[155] Toronto responded to the typhoid epidemic by building water filtration plants, using alum (aluminum) & chlorine to treat the water, after much grumbling about the cost.

1894 Aug 3 The Mayor claimed that as soon as the Keating Cut was made, Ashbridges Bay would be sanitary.[156]


That is What Certain East Enders’ Desires Mean


Think the City Should Fill In Their Marshy Property


The wise men from the East came up to interview the Mayor this morning & to bring the tidings of what they allege to be a bad state of affairs at Ashbridge’s bay.  The deputation was composed of ex-Ald. Leslie, W. Ablatt, Thomas Mitchell, C. Coleman, Mr. Greenwood & several others.

Those with the Mayor were Mr. Meredith, Mr. Keating, Ald. Burns, Lamb, Frankland, Hallam & Crane. 

The interview was at times a little warm & a few personalities were indulged in.

Leslie’s Complaint

 Ex-Ald. Leslie charged that the city Engineer was remiss in his duty in not seeing that the contracts for the work in Ashbridge’s bay were properly carried out.  The specifications, Mr. Leslie said, called for the depositing of the material taken out of the channel along the north shore.  This, said Mr. Leslie, was not being done.  The north shore was a mass of filth, the odor from which was very offensive.  The sand & material being taken out of the channel was supposed to be used to cover up this filth & make good land.

 Instead of that it was being dumped away out in the lake & wasted.  The contractors, he contended, was bound to deposit this material on the north shore.

 Mr. Mitchell spoke to the same effect.

Mr. Coleman:  “That’s where the microbes breed”

Ald. Hallam: “Microbes? fiddlesticks.”

The Mayor Calls Leslie Down

The Mayor said he had refrained from calling Mr. Leslie to order, though he thought that it was very much out of place for him to come here & make an attack on Ald. Lamb.

Ald. Hallam thought that the deputation were very unreasonable. The city was doing all it could & spending a large amount of money in improvements of the bay.  He claimed that the deputation represented only their own selfish interest, & the interests of the people generally in the ward.

 Meredith Contradicts Leslie

Ald. Leslie again came back to the attack & said that the Engineers, the court & everybody know that the contract was not being carried out.

Mr. Meredith interrupted to say that that statement was not correct, & that Mr. Leslie must have been misinformed.

The Mayor read the opinion of Engineer Galt, as submitted to the court. This opinion was to the affect that everything was going on satisfactorily, & that the bay would be in a sanitary condition as soon as the channel was completed.

 Mr. Keating, the Engineer, would have replied to the statements made, but Mr. Meredith advised him not to do so.

Accordingly the deputation had to be content with an assurance from the Mayor that the manner would receive most careful consideration.

Where The Rub Comes In

The City Engineer states that thousands of loads of material that was fit to use for filling-in purposes has been used on the north shore, but it has been used to fill in the city’s property instead of that of private owners.

 There has been a large amount of stuff dumped into the Lake, says the Engineer, that was not fit to use for any purpose of filling—in on the north shore.[157]

1894 Aug 3 Pike were the principal catch, but other warm water fish like catfish & bass were also caught.[158]

1894 Carp came to Ontario when several breeders stocked a mill pond near Markham, & later one in Newmarket.

1894 Rowing Icemen Samuel Greenwood & Leonard Marsh defeated the brickmakers, championed by J. Grady & Sam Heale.

1894 Sep 7 At 4.30 o’clock this morning James Rivett, a waiter at Mcconkey’s, John Mimms, an employe of the Toronto Club, & B.O. Furey, 107 Bolton avenue, started out in a boat from the foot of Booth avenue for a morning’s shooting.

They were hardly clear of the bank when their boat ran aground on a shoral made by the dredging out of the western channel of Ashbridge’s bay & was overturned, the 3 men being preciptated into the water.

Furey managed to reach the shore & ran shouting for help up bolton avenue.

 Unable to Save Themselves

Weighed down by their heavy clothing the other 2 men sank to the bottom. 2 young men who lived on McGee street, named George Platta and Alex. Day, arrived a few moments too late & only succeeded in recovering the dead bodies.

Rivett is a maried man & lived at 52 Carr avenue.

The bodies of the 2 unfortunates were taken to the Morgue in the patrol wagon. [159]

1894 Sept. 26 sports fishermen preferred the sheltered waters of Ashbridge’s Bay to the open lake.[160] The City continued landfilling around the northern edge of Ashbridge’s Bay, creating more & more land out of ashes & rubbish each year.[161]

1894 Oct 18 “There has been a good deal of talk about what is best to be done with the marsh lands on Ashbridge’s Bay.  Ald. Lamb, however, a short time ago, raised the question as to the city’s title to the lands being perfect, which resulted in the matter being referred to the City Solicitor for an opinion.  That opinion has now been submitted, & it appears that the city’s title is hedged round with such reservations as to make the title of doubtful value.” [He recommended that the City buy the lands to get clear title.] [162] From the late 1880s engineers formulated plans to create a new Toronto waterfront, but the Province of Ontario had claim on any land created there through land fill.[163]

1894 Oct 23 Large new ice houses were still being built including one by W. Booth & J. Russell at the foot of Morse street.[164]


Reclaiming Ashbridge’s Bay May Bring Them Into Use Again

Ald. Burns & his Committee on Manufactures & sites were accompanied on their expedition to Ashbridge’s Bay on Saturday afternoon, by the Mayor, Ald. Shaw, Engineers & a number of aldermen.

All expressed their surprise at finding so much already done, & so much land available as sites for manufacturing purposes, providing access by a good roadway is given to the land.

It is probable that as a result of Saturday’s visit, another move will be made for having all the ashes refuse of the city convey by electric cars down to the marsh. Mr. Jones says that from five to 10 acres could in this way be filled in each year.” [165]

1894  Dec 7 “Mrs. Anderson, wife of Robert Anderson, of Pape avenue, died this morning. Deceased had been sick about 10 days, but her friends had no idea that her illness was so serious. …A large number of people in the East End have been taken ill during the last 2 or 3 days. The cause is attributed to the bad condition of the water.”[166]

1895 Jan 18 “This is clearly against the law & the police have it in their hands to seize the nets & punish the offenders.  Some years ago large seizures were made, thousands of yards being taken, but the spasmodic efforts of the police resulted in little good. The Fisheries Inspector has not been seen in the neighborhood for a year.”[167]

1895 Jan 21 1895 Mayor Kennedy’s inaugural address touched on issues near & dear to East Enders. “I direct your attention to the fact that a large district of the city lying to the north of Gerrard street & to the east of the River Don is insufficiently supplied with water for fire protection & that it is advisable that that district should be cut off from the present low service system & added to the high level water supply.”

He discussed the cottages on Fishermen’s Island & Toronto Island:

“The renewing of such Island leases as it may be necessary to renew should be under very careful conditions, & every inch of the ground required for our ever-increasing population must be preserved. These remarks apply with equal force to the eastern Island or sand-bar, where already a number of summer residences have been erected.”  [168]

1895 Feb 7 1895 Land filling gained some sites for industry, but plans stalled due to the expense of a sand pump & the lack of clear title to the land.[169] These smaller land fill operations extended the shore at the foot of Leslie & west towards Carlaw Avenue.

1895 Mar 5 Concern mounted about the quality of Toronto’s water, including the cutting & storage of ice from Ashbridge’s Bay.  The Medical Health Officer inspected the cutting of ice.  The cost for these inspections was $20,000 in 1895. [170]


 The bursting of the conduit injured Toronto’s reputation as a resort for tourists & health-seekers of other countries besides those of this continent. The last edition of the British Medical Journal, the standard of publications of the profession, contains the following: “Waterborne Typhoid at Toronto. A typhoid fever epidemic is threatened in Toronto. Some time ago the water conduits burst, & since that time the city has been without pure water. The effect is now apparent from the returns of the local Board of health. For the first fifteen days of the present month 77 cases of typhoid fever were reported, against 29 in the whole month of October last year, & 27 cases in October, 1893. There are a large number of patients at the different hospitals: At Grace hospital there are 36, at St. Michael’s 22, & at the General 40 cases.” [172]

1896 A dam burst in 1896, accidentally releasing the carp into the Rouge River & Lake Ontario.[173]  The last wild Atlantic salmon in Ontario was recorded in 1896.

1897 Feb 13 Two  east end milk dealers were called before Magistrate Denison & charged with storing using ice from Ashbridge’s Bay in a building not approved of by the Medical Health Department & without even notifying the department. John Leslie, 40 De Grassi street, & Robert Buckner, 17 De Grassi street, used a shed to store ice in. Leslie was found not guilty, not being connected with the offence in any way. Buckner was fined $10 & costs or fourteen days’ hard labor.[174]

1897 June 9 An application from the Queen City Bicycle Club to have Catfish pond made into a recreation ground was not entertained. Ald. Leslie said they might as well talk of fill up Ashbridge’s Bay.[175]

1897 Sep 1 Thomas Ellwood, an East End fisherman, pleaded not guilty before Magistrate Denison to a charge of illegally using a net in Ashbridge’s Bay.[176]

1897 Sep 30 Dr. Sheard researched various sewage treatment processes. In Hamilton the City used a system where sewage was pumped through a series of settling tanks & the effluent chlorinated. The sludge was then deposited in a vat, compressed, & sold by the City as fertilizer.[177]

1898 the city laid a 72-inch steel intake pipe almost one half mile out into the lake.  END OF PIPE SOLUTION

1898 McIlwraith: The city for a greater part of its width is protected from the lake by a sandbar & island, once continuous. The sandbar runs west from near the eastern city limits for nearly 3 miles till it is divided by the Eastern Channel, & sending a spur north encloses what is known as Ashbridge’s Bay. This is really a marshy lagoon of considerable size, & though filled in, in places, still affords food & shelter for many species of birds. Into this bay originally drained some 11 creeks, & at its western end the River Don, which now is confined to an artificial channel & flows into Toronto Bay somewhat further north than where the original outlet of Ashbridge’s Bay was. The narrow sandbar that divides this bay from the lake is an important feature in the ornithological history of Toronto. It has been divided by an artificial cut giving access to the lake; the western portion is known as Fisherman’s Island, & from here as well as the bay itself have come many unusual records. The building up of this portion of the bar with houses has seriously affected the freedom of several species of waders, which no longer call here on migrations.[178]

1898 March 11 For A New Park [Simcoe Park]

Ald. Lamb Prophecies That the Sand Bar is to Become a Fashionable Watering Place.

Marchment & Co. asked for a strip of marsh land south of the channel at Cherry street, but Ald. Lamb led a successful fight against the firm. He said the land south of Ashbridge’s Bay was destined to become a fashionable watering place & produced a letter from Mr. Bertram, M.P., that the Government had granted the city permission to lay a sidewalk along the breakwater.[179]

1898 Oct 18  The expertswere divided on whether the City’s garbage should be dumped, preferably in Ashbridge’s Bay, or incinerated in a “crematorium”. According to the Toronto Star, most favoured continuing to burn Toronto’s trash. Even medical men did not see the connection between garbage & disease. Local family doctor, Dr. Cleland (730 Queen Street East), said,

No, I cannot say that I should apprehend any serious results affecting health from the dumping of the garbage in the bay, providing it is buried.”

Local druggist, F.T. Burgess (Queen Street East):

“The dump would not be nearly so bad a nuisance nor so dangerous as is the marsh itself.”  He wanted the marsh filled in: “I am willing to take my chances so long as they will but fill in as fast as they can.”

Some, however, feared the health impact of dumping garbage in a wetland. People were dying of waterborn illnesses, & people made the connection between bad drinking water & the health of the Bay.  Dr.  J. C. Carlyle (235 Seaton Street):

I don’t believe in carrying garbage from my back door to put it at another man’s back door. That is what it would amount to.  The more stuff of that kind there is burnt, the better & safer it is. Decomposing garbage is always dangerous.  I went down there this summer, & the stuff they were putting down there was most offensive.”

Druggist A.E. Walton said: “I should be inclined to think it would be very dangerous.”

Dr. J. B. Frazer (655 Queen Street East) felt that burning was better as it reduced the risk of contagious disease.

Dr. McDonald (655 Queen Street East) believed that “the dump will not be conducive to health.”  He went on, “I cannot understand those who say that such a large mass of decaying organic matter would not be a menace to health.  It must create the germs of disease.[180]

December 14, 1898 Canadian Club held an open meeting at the YMCA. 40 people were there, including about 6 women. The papers present dealt with Toronto’s future & its position as a port. Barlow Cumberland spoke on Toronto’s future as a water port, given the deepening of the St. Lawrence canal system then underway. Dr. Charles Sheard spoke about Toronto’s sewage problem & the need for a modern disposal system which would “be the saving of the harbor”. He spoke in an unofficial capacity. He believed that sewage disposal was Toronto’s most important problem. Infrastructure, roads, water & drainage were the foundation needed for Toronto’s growth.

“For years Toronto had been destroying its harbor, & if the present system was continued for some years longer, the city would find itself joined to the Island without bridge, trolley, or ferry.”

Toronto Bay would be filled in – with sewage.  The city’s water supply was polluted by sewage in place.   A trunk sewer with an outlet below Victoria Park, a proposal seriously considered, would not & could not solve the problem. By dumping sewage into the water, Toronto not only polluted the water, but deprived by land of fertilizer. Sheard clearly stated the old theory that allowed people to dump waste into lakes & wetlands. It had been seriously believed that the oxygen in the water purified the sewage, rendering it safe.  This was not the case, never had been the case, & was dangerous to the public health.

Sheard described the 3 methods of sewage disposal available at that time:

  1. Precipitation used a series of tanks to purify the water. A precipitation system would require 30 to 40 tanks to handle Toronto’s daily output of 15 million gallons of sewage a day.
  2. Filtration through & gravel beds was another method.
  3. An old method was the use of raw sewage & dried sewage (sludge) in farming, particularly market gardening: “the excrement & waste productions contained in sewage were necessary to the maintenance of the fertility of the land”, according to Sheard.

With any one of these methods a trunk sewer system was necessary.  Sheard favoured the last 2 methods. The City could no longer afford to drag its feet. The alternative was inviting epidemic disease.

Otherwise, he said, someone would someday take action that would make the municipality do something in a hurry, & what was done in a hurry was never well done.”[181]

1898 the city laid a 72-inch steel water intake pipe almost ½ mile out into the lake, to protect  water supply. END OF PIPE SOLUTION

1900 A typhoid epidemic swept Toronto.

1900 Some Leslieville rowers became star athletes much as hockey or baseball players are today. Leslieville had the Leslieville Rowing Club. Toronto Island’s Ned Hanlan is better known, but Leslieville’s Hugh Wise, Isaac Price & John Russell, & brothers, Robert & Harry Dibble, were rowing celebrities as well. On Sunday afternoons dozens of rowing sculls dotted Toronto Harbour & Ashbridge’s Bay. Leslieville’s brickmakers & icemen competed against each other in an annual race.

1901 April 3 In 1901 the foot-wide water main that crossed the Don River at Gerrard Street broke, cutting the supply of water to the East End in half. Another 12-inch main at Eastern Avenue & a 6-incher at King Street supplied the East End until repairs were made.[182]

1901 July 31 Fishermen were complaining that the carp was ruining Toronto’s waters, saying they are “Not of much use to eat & the cause of much filth generally.” The carp feed on the bottom, roiling the sediments, making the water murky. Hector McDonell, resident of Fisherman’s Island, & fisherman for 30 years on Ashbridge’s Bay, said, “This fish is not a dainty little fellow, but coarse in appearance & coarse eating. He has a head like a bass & a mouth like a sucker.”[183]

1903 March 2 Garbage collectors from the East End signed a statement stating that used mattresses from the Isolation Hospital were being dumped into Ashbridge’s Bay. Street Commissioner John Jones called them up before him & chastised them for “whistle-blowing”. He demanded that they explain “how it was that they had taken upon themselves the liberty of giving out information without consulting the head of the department.”  “I’m going to run this department of know the reason why,” stated Jones.[184]

1903 March 23 The City buried the lower reaches of Hastings & Leslie Creeks in combined sewers that also carried human waste. The heavy industry around Morse & Carlaw dumped coal tar, oil & other contaminants into the sewer. The paint works in the area were also responsible.  Canada Paint, Leslie Street sat on landfill just south of Eastern Avenue.  The shore along Ashbridge’s Bay at the foot of Leslie & west of there had a number of paint works who were dumping waste into the storm sewer system. With the creeks diverted into sewers, the little coves at the mouth of Leslieville’s Creeks had become pools of stagnant muck, covering the boats with “a slime that takes more than elbow grease to remove.” The Gut, once so good for fishing, was now “an open cesspool”.[185] Leslieville fisherman & others who had boats & boat houses on Ashbridge’s Bay complained that the outflow of the Morse Street sewer was fouling their property with coal oil & tar.  City dredged to keep channel from The Gut to Coatsworth Cut open.

July 19, 1906 At the same time the City was constructing sewers & pavements, bringing the advantages of amalgamation slowly to Leslieville. In 1906 contracts were awarded for laying sewers on Gerrard Street & Eastern Avenue.[186]


The Canadian Pacific Railway has filed plans at the Registry Office of their projected lines entering the city from the east. They show in red on the blue print a main line commencing at a point south of the Woodbine track & running just south of the north limit of the city property being filled in along Ashbridge’s bay. In fact, it is shown on the map as marsh or water. It follows the north side of the projected roadway for practically the whole distance to the Don.

At a point about 600 ft. west of Leslie avenue a branch turns north & runs north-westerly in a diagonal direction, crossing Eastern avenue just west of Winnifred street, Pape avenue just south of Queen, & Queen just west of Pape avenue, then runs up between Carlaw & Pape avenues, crossing the former at Withrow, then turning almost west, crossing Bain street, Sparkhall avenue, & Broadview just north of the jail.

It then cuts straight across Riverdale Park just about the center, & joins the main line to the north-west of the park.

An alternative line strikes north from the water front line just south of the cow byres, & thereby comes into direct competition with the G.T.R.’s main line east.

The following property-holders will be affected: Eastern Avenue: G. Sedgwick, A.R. Clark, Geo. Leslie, Gooderham & Worts. Pape avenue: W. Jephcott, Joseph Hook, John Gard, Geo. Redding, Geo. Martin, Geo. Fletcher, Wm. Mahon, Ed. Hogg, Rupert Edlin, W.G. Jarvis, Wm. Thompson, E. Trent. Queen street: E.K. Bain, M.A. Bell. Gerrard: John Russell, Armour & Mickle. Smith street: W.T. Harris, National Trust. Logan avenue: Wm. White. Sparkhall avenue: George Only, John Peacock. Winchester Drive. John Jones. Broadview Avenue: St. Matthew’s Lawn Tennis Club, & Toronto General Trusts Corporation.

The plans bear the name of W. Gatchin, assistant chief engineer; J.M.R. Fairbairn, divisional engineer, & D. McNicoll, vice-president. [187]

1908 Jan 20 The economy was in a depression. A local resident suggested that the City built a spur line into Ashbridge’s Bay & build sewers, particularly Leslie Street sewer, to provide work unemployed men.[188] A sewage plant was proposed for the area west of the race track & south of Eastern Avenue & eventually built at the foot of Morley Street. Riverdale, Leslieville & Beach residents fought against the construction of the Morley Road Sewer Treatment Plant.

1908 Toronto Star April 2 “The cottages upon the sand bar presented the appearance of a street in Venice, standing as they do upon posts buried five inches in water.”…[189]

1908 Oct. 17 Property owners threatened to sue the city if the sewage treatment plant was built. City Council passed a by-law to expropriate property to construct the sewage disposal plant east of Morley avenue (road). 62 properties were to be bought or expropriated & 45 houses were to be moved or torn down. The only politicians who voted against it were the aldermen from the local ward, Ward One. The City received a legal notice on behalf of East Toronto property owners who “claimed that if the disposal works were established on the Morley avenue site it would be a breach of an agreement between East Toronto & the city whereby the city agreed not to foul the lake & beach in front of East Toronto by sewage disposal from the city’s sewage system.”[190]

1908 Dec 5 The City claimed that: …the present plans cannot be changed without tremendous expense to the citizens, & it would seem absurd for the Assessment Commissioner to purchase the property in Morley avenue if the controllers have any intention of changing the site. It is a rather serious question to take up just before a municipal election when appreciation of office leads even the strongest men to bend to popular demands.[191]

1908 Dec 14 The Beach residents were particularly opposed to the sewage treatment plant.  Members of the Kew Beach & Balmy Beach Associations met a number of times to plan a campaign. They were not fooled by City claims that the plant would not smell, that the water would be pure, that the Beach would be safe, that it would be pretty. T. Aird Murray argued that, “Septic tanks could not completely purify sewage, & should not be erected in the vicinity of dwelling houses.”[192]

1908 Dec 21 Mayor Joseph Oliver wanted the plant built south of Eastern Avenue, away from the houses & stores on Queen Street.

“No matter where you put the septic tanks there will be opposition but I think a good deal of the opposition would be removed if they were located south of Eastern avenue.”

The mayor’s proposed changing the course of Eastern Avenue by moving it north about 100 feet to encompass most of the originally-planned sewage plant site, making it still south of Eastern Avenue but without requiring much change in the plans.[193]


Ald. Church’s plan for a new land-locked harbor in Ashbridge’s Bay will be discussed at a meeting of the Riverdale Merchants’ Association on Friday night at 8 o’clock in the Royal Canadian Bicycle Rooms, Broadview avenue.

It is proposed to dredge Ashbridge’s Bay into a large canal basin of new harbour, & widen & deepen Keating’s cut & the east end of Toronto harbor.

Docks & elevators would be erected. The city will be asked to put No. 3 & No. 4 dredges at work.  Engineer Sing, Harbormaster Postlethwaite, & Wm. Evans, dominion steamboat inspector, approve of the plan.[194]

1909 Feb 27 The City did not back down on the sewer plant. The City moved ahead despite the protests of residents. The land was purchased. The deal was done.[195]

1909 March 4Experts say the place will be a pretty park. (The Main Sewage Treatment Plant Park sits on the sewage treatment plant site today, being a flat featureless park, soggy underfoot most of the year.) Engineers, representing the City met with a deputation of representatives from the Beach Protective Association & the Riverdale Business Men’s Association. Riverdale, Leslieville & Beach residents fought against the construction of the Morley Road Sewer Treatment Plant. Property owners threatened to sue the city if the sewage treatment plant was built. Residents feared that the proximity of the plant would destroy Woodbine Beach:

“That part of the shore east of the Woodbine is practically the only beach where the people can bathe.”

W.L. Edmunds said Beaches residents were opposed to the Morley avenue site:

“The Beaches were growing rapidly & were residential. The district was looked upon as one of the best & healthiest parts of the city.”

The Morley Road Treatment Plant would consist mainly of septic tanks.”[196]


The destruction of insectivorous birds about Toronto is an evil that has attained serious proportions. The men who have become habitual lawbreakers laugh at the idea of the local fish & game inspector interfering with them. The law has become to them a joke. They can be seen along the sandbar south of Ashbridge’s Bay with pockets or small baskets filled with swallows, an occasional bittern or herring gull supplying variety.  Such unprotected birds as English sparrows & grackle are also shot, but the crowd of gunners make no distinction. On the first day of legal shooting the swallows were flocking large numbers along the sandbar, resting compact lines on the wires over the breakwater…on the wave-washed pebbles of the shore…slaughtered in large numbers by a nondescript crowd using all kinds of more or less effective shotguns. In many of the “bags” carried away from the marsh & bar swallows predominated, but there were a few plover & sandpipers to give a semblance of sportsmanship.  This is the natural result of appointing inspectors who neither know or care anything about fish or game, & seldom visit the localities where such infractions of the law are likely to occur. 

 At other times the same destructive shooters make their way up the Don valley, killing indiscriminately the robins, shore larks, meadow larks, woodpeckers, & even song sparrows, goldfinches, & warblers. While their depredations there are restricted through regard for the local constable, they destroy many insectivorous birds every year. The seriousness of such destruction is now so generally recognized that some effective effort at repression should be made. If the balance of nature is freely disturbed insects will multiply unchecked & become a menace to the leading productive industry of the Province. The millions lost through insect pests in countries where bird life has been destroyed need not be cited, for the lesson has been deeply impressed. The law is as comprehensive as anyone could require. What is wanted is a serious attempt at enforcement, & at present there seems but little prospect of that. The lawbreakers know when enforcement is lax & improve their opportunities.[197]

December 7, 1909 Some of the land purchased for the sewage treatment plant was not needed & became a park on the east side of Woodfield Road, & south of Queen Street, now the Jonathan Ashbridge Park.[198] Some later became public housing.

In 1909/10 the sewage plant was built on Eastern Avenue at the foot of Morley Street.[199]

1909 The Rev. John Doel, who died in 1909 at the age of 93, remembered his “boyhood days [when] sea salmon were sometimes caught in the [Don] river.[200]

1911 The question of control of & title to any new lands was settled by the Government of Canada, which, by an Act of Parliament, incorporated the Toronto Harbor Commission (THC). The Toronto Harbor Commission had the powers to expropriate, administer the waterfront & raise money through the sale of bonds.  Five members made up the Commission. 3 were appointed by the city council & 2 by the Federal Government. With the creation of the Toronto Harbor Commission the development of Toronto’s 10-mile wide waterfront became the major engineering accomplishment in Toronto’s history. The plan included improving the harbour, creating a new industrial districts & new park & recreational areas.[201]

The City accepted plans by the THC & filled in the Marsh.  It took 4 million cubic yards of fill (silt, rubble & garbage) to turn the Ashbridge’s Bay cattail marsh into an industrial & port complex.

Controllers Will Talk It Over, But Think Doctors are Needlessly Alarmed.


“Let us try it first. Don’t let us call the sewage disposal plant a failure before we try it,” said Controller Hocken, when Controller Ward voiced his doubts as to the usefulness of the plant on which the city is spending $3,000,000, at the Board of control meeting today.

“The experts told us the other day that they found contamination fifteen miles out,” said Controller Ward.

“Yes, & you’ll find it 75 miles out. You’ll find it in any water on earth,” continued Controller Hocken. “Just because Dr. Nasmith finds a bug out there, are we going to throw aside the advice of 2 such eminent experts as Messrs. Hering & Watson?”

“Well, the experts differ,” said Controller Ward.

Controller Church: “It’s a case of too many experts & too little common-sense.”

Controller Hocken: “That Medical Health Officer is frightening the people out of their wits. We’ll never have a water supply to suit that bunch downstairs.”

Then the controllers held over the Board of Health’s recommendation to chlorinate the sewage effluent, & decided to talk the whole thing over to-morrow morning with the Board of Health.[202]

1911 Oct. 19 Leslieville Hero

Rowland Frederick Bell won a bronze medal & a $2,000 educational bursary from the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission for risking his life to save H.E. Moriarty from drowning on Sunday, June 27, 1909.  Bell was swimming Ashbridge’s Bay, diving from a dinghy.  He saw a man in distress. “I at once plunged in & when I reached him his frantic efforts to grab me warned me to be cautious so I circled around him looking for an opening.

As it was he succeeded in pulling me under twice, & had it not been for the poor material of my bathing suit, when torn away in his death-like grip, it might have been all over with both of us.

However, he was fast weakening & I was able to get a good grip on him & keep afloat till John Franklin came along with a punt.”

“Mr. Bell stated that he had always wanted to take a university course & although his extent of schooling ended with the Public school, he intended as soon as his present job was finished to start right in.” He was 22, the oldest of 8 children of Mr. & Mrs. John Bell, 87 Morley Avenue.  The Royal Humane Society had already conferred a life-saving medal on him. “His mother’s happiness knows no bounds. There were tears in her eyes when she told the Star how she & her husband had always wished that they could let their son go to college.

“He was always a great reader,” she said. “Whenever he could lay his hands on a text book on law or science, he would study it diligently.”[203]

1911 Oct 23 The area east of Greenwood & north of Queen Street East had been absorbed into the City of Toronto.  Many of the houses in the neighbourhood had been built by the owners themselves when the area was outside the City limits.  By the time of amalgamation, the area was well on its way to becoming a working class, low income street car suburb of Toronto. Some streets, particularly Erie Terrace, later called Craven Road, were densely packed with small houses, some mere huts, without running water or sewage, with contaminated wells & over-flowing outhouses, creating a public health nightmare. Developers made fortunes selling lots, but when the City raised its standards for housing, requiring indoor plumbing & toilets connected to the City sewer system, many could not afford to comply & lost their homes. Some fought back. Frank Magauran appeared before the City Committee to protest against being charged $20.92 for sewage connection for his house on Erie Terrace. The work cost $11.89, but the City of Toronto charged everyone a flat fee of $18, plus a $2 connection charge, & 92 cents for overhead charges. Magauran claimed he should only pay $11.89, the actual cost. He lost.[204]

1911 Dec 15 Water For Morley Avenue. The residents of Morley avenue will continue to drink water supplied by the city water carts. The Street Commissioner is of the opinion that it is not safe to allow them to use the well supply on that street. The cost of it will be charged to the Waterworks Department.[205]

1912 The City finished its drainage pumping station with sewage treatment facilities at the foot of Morley Avenue.  The water in what was left of Ashbridge’s Bay was thick with sewage from the ineffectual treatment plant. The water was now so shallow that there were places where the once deep Ashbridge’s Bay was mere inches deep.[206]

1912  The THC began work in February. THC grand plan created Sunnyside Beach, the Government Breakwater from the Humber to the Western Gap, Lakeshore Blvd., the Eastern Beaches, the Airport at Hanlan’s Point, & extended the entire shoreline across Toronto’s downtown waterfront south more than 1,000 feet.  It provided for the terminals & warehouses of a great industrials port.  Ashbridge’s Bay was filled in to create an industrial complex. They built a new ship channels & 1000 square foot turning basin.  They diverted the Don River into the Keating Channel. They dredged the harbour to 24 feet, but land reclamation also was a major goal.  Reclaimed land included 1960 acres, consisting of:  Sunnyside & CNE, 220; the Harbour from Bathurst to Parliament, 280; The Toronto Islands, 360; the foot of Leslie 160; from the eastern edge of the harbour to Victoria Park, 940 acres.  3 million cubic yards of landfill was dug from the bottom of the bay.

Land was reclaimed through dredging.  There were 2 types of dredges.  The first type was the clamshell dredge which was basically a bucket that opened up to scoop material off the bottom.  The dredge was mounted on a barge & had a derrick.  When the bucket was full, the derrick swung to the side & dumped the load of bottom material or “spoil” into a scow.

The hydraulic dredge was much faster & efficient, able to more material.  This dredge consisted of a rotating cutting head, sort of like a man’s electric razor.  The cutting head was lowered to the bottom where it churned up vast clouds of loose material that was then sucked up through tubes powered by powerful pumps.  A floating pipeline ran from the rear of the barge to the shore, moving huge amounts of soil quickly from bottom to create new land.  Toronto’s hydraulic dredge, “The Cyclone”, did most of the work of dredging the harbour & creating new land.  It was incredibly noisy, but effective.  It could move 20,000 cubic yards of lake bottom in 24 hours.

1912 The Don Rowing Club moved to Leslieville, building a club house at the south end of Morley Road.


Keating’s Cut Has Not Been Dredged Since Harbor Commissioners Took Charge & Waterfront Is Befouled With Sewage – Boating Made Almost Impossible, & Serious Damage Done to Property


Some years ago at a cost of thousands of dollars Keating’s Cut was dredged out to purity Ashbridge’s Bay & allow of a circulation of fresh water. With similar purposes a connection was cut out to the lake down towards the eastern end of the sandbar. [Coatworth Cut] It was evidently expected that the harbor would grown down that way, because a channel was dredged out to a depth of 7 feet from Toronto Bay right through to Coatsworth’s Cut. & as a matter of fact there has been some development of that kind, especially since the vogue of the motorboat. A swing bridge at Cherry street with a man in charge is still there on the job to allow of the passage of vessels whose masts or smoke stacks preclude their passing underneath a fixed bridge. The swing bridge & the man are there all right, but navigation for all craft drawing more than about 4 inches of water requires a pilot. This condition has developed during the year since the Harbor commission took over the administration of the Bay & all the works & affairs of the harbor.

Yesterday The Star was invited to take a motor trip of inspection in those waters served by the channel long known as Keating’s Cut. The boat used for the occasion was a speedy craft built at one of the establishments which have grown up down there & drawing about fourteen inches of water. At the mouth of the Don, about one-third out in the channel, at half-speed, the boat suddenly ran up on a shoal & came to a dead stop. All around the boat dense clouds of black water were rising to the surface, accompanied by bubbles & an intolerable stench. A paddle showed showed [sic] the water to have depth of perhaps 6 inches with a foot of soft ooze below. How far down it was possible to thrust a pointed pole was not determined, but from the nature of the casual soundings taken it would seem that a man might sink in the barely-covered quagmire far over his head. This filth was deposited by the Don River, which at its mouth is nothing more than a huge sewer.

Shoals of Sewage

“I ran the boat up on this much bank just to surprise you,” said the motorboat man. “if we had been going at full speed we would never have got off here without help.”

By rocking the boat & aiding the engine with a paddle the launch was backed off. The resulting disturbance to the silt on the shallow bottom is better left undescribed.

Running further down the cut to where it opens out to a considerable expansion, the launch came to the foot of Carlaw avenue. Here an open sewer pours out into the channel. Last January the city began work on this sewer outlet; the idea being to make a storm overflow at this point instead of the merely local drain issue that it had formerly been. Instead of rain water, however, the full contamination of the Queen street sewer was turned into it & the foot of Carlaw avenue, where are situated a number of boat-building factories, machine shops for gasoline engines, & other industries, with slips, docks, ways & wharves, has become a hideous cesspool.

Dangerous Cesspools.

The boat-houses where the launches are floated under cover, the moorings where they ride in the cove beside the channel, the shore of the ship yard where men have to work, the foot of the street where children play, present amass of filth floating on water the color of mud, or sliming everything the water touches. Nothing afloat or awash can be kept clean. When the weather becomes warm or sultry the stench is so frightful the men at work in the machine shop close by endure the heat rather than leave the windows open. Fortunately this summer has been a cool one, or a serious effect on the health of the neighborhood would probably have developed. The work of extending the Carlaw avenue sewer has dragged on all summer, & is still far from complete. In the meantime the sewer is open at the foot of the street for some little distance to where it empties at the shore. When the extension is complete the mouth of the pipe will only reach to the middle of the channel, & unless something further is done the filthy condition of the landings at the shore & the mooring places will not be relieved. As it is now, a mud bank composed of the sediment & corruption of the sewer has formed along the shore in front of the property down there. When this sewage is emitted into the middle of the channel, some 50 feet further out, a shoal will form there making the navigation of the cut practically impossible.

Continuing the voyage of inspection to where Keating’s Cut opens out into Ashbridge’s Bay proper, the motor boat again ran up on a muck shoal at the foot of Leslie street. Another sewer pours its burden of filth into the channel at this point, & the water has a depth of only a few inches. Imprisoned sewer gas rose to the surface in a myriad of bubbles. An old wharf stands on the shore at this point out of reach of anything drawing more water than a canoe.

Commission Does Nothing.

Until the new Harbor Commission took Ashbridge’s Bay into their jurisdiction about a year ago, the city has always sent the dredges down Keating’s cut twice a year, according to those who complain about the condition that has followed there since that time. The channel was kept at a uniform depth of 7 feet, providing sufficient current to carry away the chief part of the objectionable floating matter brought down by the sewers. Boats could be left at their moorings without becoming repulsively filthy. As it is now their owners complain that they might be hauled out & repainted every 2 weeks & still be in an undesirable condition. Across the slips of the Schofield-Holden Machine Company, a boom has been stretched in an effort to keep out the worst of the floating sewage from the landing places, the launch houses & the ways but the effort has not been gloriously successful.

“I would sell this place if I could & get out of here,” said Mr. Schofield to The Star yesterday. “Hamilton has offered some inducements to go there. Their bay is quite clean in comparison. Our business is not local. We could do as well at Cobourg or any of those places along the lake. But it seems a funny way to treat us after we have grown up here. I think we are entitled to this channel as a right of way after all these years. All we want is to have the cut maintained as it was when we started here. The G.T.R. started to build a spur down along the north shore of the cut, shutting us all off from the water. They did shut off a lot of the smaller places, but we got out an injunction & stopped them before they got down as far as our property.”

Property is Damaged.

Mr. Schofield is by no means alone in his complaint. Rickey Brothers, boat builders; the Southam firm, & the Graham people are among those who are hurt.

The bridge at Cherry street, where the city keeps a man to open up for boats entering the cut, is practically a fixture these days. It was opened on Sunday five times, according to the bridge-keeper, the vessels being sailing skiffs of light draught, the masts which were too tall to clear the low birders.

“Sunday was a busy day,” declared the bridge man.

The Harbor Commission in reply to a written request that they dredge the channel, refused except on the condition that the firms occupying premises along the shore, surrender control of their water rights at any time after a month’s notice, which they are naturally loath to do. & so the matter remains at a deadlock. In the meantime Keating’s Channel is filling up with sewage, & a dangerous nuisance has been created for the residences on those streets contiguous to Ashbridge’s Bay.

The Harbor Board’s Story.

When the report of these conditions was called to the attention of Alexander Lewis, secretary of the Board of Harbor Commissioners, to-day he said that he had no doubt that they were as described.

  “If there was any intention of continuing Keating’s Cut it would be necessary to consider plans for dredging it immediately,” he said. “But there is no intention of continuing. By next spring Keating’s Cut will be closed.

“In the general scheme of harbor & water-front improvement which is being worked out Keating’s Cut has no part. An entirely new channel will be made, which shall be a real ship channel. This, of course, is something for which Keating’s Cut was never intended. It was built, you will remember, on orders from the Provincial Board of Health simply to provide an outlet for sewage & to help in the purification of Ashbridge’s Bay. It was not, & never has been, a ship channel, & we have decided that the best thing to do is to close it up altogether, as it is not needed in the extensive plans for general improvement that are being perfected.” [207]


The Dumping of Sewage Will Soon Cease—In Meantime Dredge Will Work.

Litigants Winning.

“My clients are desperate. Their water lot has become a cesspool. People will not come to them. Their business is being ruined.

So declared W. E. Raney, K.C., before Mr. Justice Sutherland at noon to-day when, acting for Rickey Brothers, motor-boat builders, etc., he urged that the city be obliged to give immediate relief.

Mr. Raney said that both Carlaw & Morse avenue sewers, until this year, had carried the sewage 200 feet out. But now the sewage was at the shore line.

G.R. Geary, K.C., Corporation Counsel, said the city was sorry on account of the sewage, but the storm sewer would be finished in a few days, & the sewage would be disposed of. As to navigation rights, the Merritt case was fatal to Rickey Brothers.

“Send a dredge down, & clean out the water lot & channel, urged Mr. Raney to Mr. Geary.

Mr. Geary denied that the city had done dredging previously, unless paid for by the Rickeys, but Mr. Raney made this comment: “We paid for dredging our water lot, nothing more.”

What the Harbor Board & city might do was the next phase. Mr. Raney had little faith in their joint action unless the court made an order.

Eventually, Mr. Geary promised to do his best, & the judge said the case might be mentioned again on Tuesday.

“I do not know whether I can get a dredge to-day,” was Mr. Geary’s doubt.

The cost of dredging will go to the trial, which may expected.

Replying to the query, “Will $125,000 be sufficient to pay for the whole work?” Commissioner of Works Harris says: “In my opinion a larger sum will be required to complete the work.”

He states further:

The boulevard will be maintained at the city’s expense.

That a survey is now being made, which will take some weeks to complete, in order to secure an approximate estimate of the costs of the boulevard & bridges.[208]

1912 THC Waterfront Plan. The plan, conducted under the leadership of THC Chief Engineer E.L. Cousins, diverted the river southwest from the GTR bridge, then south to meet with a widened & reinforced Keating Channel before entering the harbour. Objections by British American Oil Company, whose property lay along the line of the proposed diversion, led to a final amendment: rather than curving through the BA Oil property, the river would continue straight south to connect at a right angle with Keating Channel.

1913 Feb 18 About 13 miles of trunk sewer went into operation & the Morley Avenue sewage plant handled all the sewage for Toronto. The system consisted of 2 east-west tubes, called the high level & low level interceptors which crossed the city & emptied into the Morley Avenue plant. The sewage plant treated it by straining it & allowing most of the solid matter to settle in sedimentation tanks. The liquid left-over went into the lake after being chlorinated. The high level trunk sewer, which ran just around Dundas Street in the East End, was constructed, beginning in 1909. The high level sewer was 9 miles long, the low level, which ran near to Queen Street, was 4 & a half miles long. The plant had a capacity of only 40,000,000 to 45,000,000 a day – the amount of sewage the City produced the day it opened – built-in obsolescence.[209]

1913 July 11 When the wind blew from the east, the currents in the lake carried sewage from the Morley Avenue plant’s outflow pipe into the intake pipe for the City’s water supply.[210] The water in what was left of Ashbridge’s Bay was thick with sewage from the ineffectual treatment plant. The water was now so shallow that there were places where the once deep Ashbridge’s Bay was mere inches deep.[211]


 “We are experimenting upon ways & means for betterment of the sewage disposal works at Ashbridge’s bay,” said Commissioner Harris. “In a few days we will have the trickler system operating upon the effluent, & we expect the result will be the purification of the water from the plant sufficiently to have no injurious effect upon the city’s water supply when an east wind makes a current along the shore in the direction of the intake pipes.

“We are now arranging for experimentation with the sludge nuisance, & will keep at it until the nuisance is abated. All this takes time & patience, but we have solved other problems just as great by experimentation, & we expect to solve the sludge problem, & without too great expense.”[212]

1913 Sep THC approved final plans in September, 1913. [213] They filled in Ashbridge’s Bay to create an industrial area known as the Eastern Harbor Terminals (known now as “The Portlands”).  The Eastern Harbor Terminals was devoted to heavy & light manufacturing, containing 644 acres of factory sites, 233 acres of streets & railroad reservations & 130 acres of waterways. The Harbor Commission built a ship channel, turning basin & circulating channel, as well as retaining walls, many engineered & built by John E. Russell, of Leslieville’s Russell brickmaking family.

They also constructed a new harbour head line across the entire front of the inner harbour, 1,200 feet south of the shore line, using landfill. They deepened the harbour to 24 feet. They reclaimed 900 acres of park lands east & west along the lake front & on Toronto Island. [214]

To fill the marsh a hydraulic dredge excavated sand from the bottom of the lake & from the harbour. The Don River mouth, once divided into 2 channels called the Little Don & the Don, now was engineered to take a sharp right turn & enter the lake through the Keating Channel.  Without its delta to filter the water, tons of silt & pollution now went directly into the harbour where it is dredged.

The Don Rowing clubhouse burned down. They rebuilt, but when the City built the Morley Avenue Sewage Treatment Plant near their clubhouse, the situation became untenable. Raw sewage from the ineffective plant spilled, turning what was left of Ashbridge’s Bay into a reeking sewage lagoon.

1914 During World War One the Toronto Harbor Commissioners put themselves at the disposal of the Munitions Board. One man from Leslieville sadly remembered when there were no sewers to the bay & the water was unpolluted & used for drinking.[215]

1914 Feb 16 Trial Court.

 Before the Chancellor.

 Rickey v. Toronto: & Schofield-Holden V. Toronto – W.E. Baney, K.C., & H.E. Irwin, K.S. for plantiffs. G.R. Geary, G.C., & C.M. Colquhuon for the city; A.C. McMaster for the Harbor Commissioners. These 2 actions, begun at same time & tried together, are brought mainly to vindicate claim to “riparian rights” on Ashbridge’s bay as an arm of Lake Ontario, & part of the harbor of Toronto.

 Judgment:  The broad distinction between the Merritt case previously tried & these is that Merritt’s property abutted on almost dry marsh land, while plaintiff’s lots have water, in front. “Riparian,” the word used in the pleadings, is not accurate, as it applies to a river & flowing water. There is no apt epithet expressive of this unique situation, & so far the sake of convenience “riparian”, may be used. The local situation (as shown by the surveys & plans) when these lands were first granted by the Crown for actual settlement forbids any inference or deduction that riparian rights attached or were to be implied in favor of the patentees. The boundary of their land was an irregular lie forming the northern limit of “the great marsh,” as it came to be called. Land touched land, albeit of a swampy sort, & no place is left for abutment on a water front. When these actions were brought against the city alone, in October, 1912, the right-&-title to the marsh & Ashbridge’s Bay area was vested in the Harbor Commissioners, who were afterwards added as defendants. Both plaintiffs purchased after Keating’s cut had been made, & neither of them had the title to the lots investigated.

 Concerning the “water lots,” so called, in front of the plaintiff’s land lots, that became open water by means of an act of trespass on the part of McKee, after he took possession. Another cutting was made by Blong near the place & called Blong street in like manner to the southward, & the severance of the mass of vegetation on each side caused by these preliminary cuttings, so disconnected the intermediate floating marsh that it was torn off by the combined action of the elements & carried away, leaving a gap in the marsh at that point, which is first marked in Jenning’s plan of the harbor in 1890.

This place has been kept open since by dredging, & the situation has been so changed that it is impossible now to ascertain with any accuracy the real condition before these acts of illegal displacement. The only pretence I can see to claim navigable water or access as of right is the water in front of these lots, originate with these acts of spoliation & trespass, & the origin indicates the illegality.

By dredging & by the construction of Keating’s cut the place has assumed a riparian & navigable aspect, but the uses of the water has been permissive, & not as of right, & the really navigable part has been created by art & science.

After coming to the end of a necessarily devious course in the consideration of this contest I have reached, for the various reasons given, the conclusion that the plaintiffs have no claim to riparian rights, & have no right of access by water to what may be the navigable water or made be made the navigable water in Ashbridge’s Bay. This dispossess of the main causes of action as to water rights. The plaintiffs also complained of other matters: First, that the nuisance created by the discharge of sewage, especially by the additional output in the year 1913, should be restrained & abated; & next, as to the plaintiff, Schofield, that damages should be given for the injury done through opening Carlaw avenue & so interfering with his business & with access to his premises.

 As to the nuisance from the pollution of the water & the air by reason of the discharge of foecal & other mal-odorous substances into Ashbridge’s Bay, no case is made out for interference on behalf of an individual. In these respects of water & have been proper matters of investigation by the court at the instance of the Attorney-General or upon criminal prosecution.

 This damage to the business of the plaintiff on the water side is not recoverable from the city. The plaintiffs had no right to go to & fro with boats over this part of the marsh, which belonged to the city. No obligation rested on the defendant quoad the plaintiffs to keep the water free from refuse or from being blocked.

 The whole of Rickey’s front, as occupied, is an encroachment over the Unwin line, & so is Schofield’s to a great extent – all but the slip. There is some evidence to show that the city failed to exercise reasonable expedition in completing the restoration of Carlaw avenue to a travelable condition alongside Schofield’s place. He appears to have sustained loss of business, probably for some months, on this account, for which he may recover in this action. For other injuries, if any, arising from the method of construction, compensation must e sought by process of arbitration & not by action.

It will be referred to the Master to assess damages for injury suffered by the plaintiff Schofield for want of proper access by land to his business premises by reason of delay in completing the restoration of Carlaw avenue after it had been opened alongside his premises for the purpose of putting the concrete sewer in the year 1912, & prior to October 30, 1912. Costs of this part of the case & costs of reference will be reserved till further directions.

 As to the Harbor Commissioners, both actions are dismissed with costs.

Schofield’s action against the city, so far as water rights are concerned, is dismissed with costs; so far as nuisance & sewage is concerned it is dismissed without costs; so far as damage to business is concerned, costs reserved till after reference.

As to the city, Rickey’s action concerning water rights is dismissed with costs; for the nuisance & sewage, dismissed without costs. (Note—The Judge notes that the earlier maps & plans referred to have been collected by the indefatigable zeal of John Ross Robertson, Esq., in his valuable publications on the ”Landmarks of Toronto.”)[216]


 Object to Their Treatment by the Harbor Board Regarding Rights on Ashbridge’s Bay.


 Declare Will Be Forced Out of Business When Deprived of Access to Bay.

Builders of motor boats who are located on Ashbridge’s bay are protesting strongly against the treatment given them by the Harbor Commission, & have written to The Star the following letter, in which they state their case. It is signed by the Schofield-Holden Coy., Rickey Bros., Canadian Machinery Repair Coy., & Southam Bros., Gasoline Engine Works:

“In November 1911, the city made over the Ashbridge’s Bay area, that is to say the marsh & the bed of the bay, to the harbor Commissioners in trust for the city.

“In the Spring of 1912 the Harbor Board announced its intention of closing Keating’s Channel & filling Ashbridge’s Bay, & notified us that it would decline to acknowledge that we had any rights through Keating’s Channel to Toronto Bay. That attitude, if it could be supported, spelled ruin to us, because communication with Toronto bay by water was vital to our business. About the same time the city increased the area drained by the Carlaw avenue sewer from about 20 acres to upwards of 750 acres, & deposited this enormous quantity of sewage just at this shore line, until the condition became such that it was described by the Provincial Inspector of Health as ‘abominable’ & the worst he had ever seen.

 We appealed from the harbor Board to the then mayor & board of Control, & back to the harbor Board, each referring us to the other without success, except o discover that both appeared indifferent to our destruction. We then appealed to the court, & we now have the announcement that, for reasons too lengthy to reproduce here, but depending partially upon the condition of things where we are now located when the original grants of the township lots were made by the Crown 120 years ago, & partially upon the legal doctrine that here is no private remedy for a public nuisance, we are told by the court that we have no legal recourse.

 Discuss Honesty & Decency. 

“We are not desiring to discuss these points of law. They are too deep for us & we will be content to leave them to the lawyers & to the courts. What we do desire to discuss is just common honesty & common decency, things that we may be supposed to know something about without being lawyers.

“The business of boat building for which Ashbridge’s Bay is peculiarly well adapted has been an industry there for a generation before the construction of Keating’s channel in 1894 the boat builders had communication with Toronto bay by natural channels. Since Keating’s Channel was put through it has been the water highway between the 2 bays, & as such has been in constant use by us. Some of us are successors in business to men who started before Keating’s channel as dredges; others of us have acquired our properties & built our buildings since then. Deprived of access to Toronto Bay, we shall be compelled to give up our businesses & our properties will be worthless for our purposes.

 Established On Faith.

“We established our present businesses on the faith of things as they were—that is to say open navigable waters in Ashbridge’s by a right up to our shore line & a navigable connection with Toronto Bay. There never was a suggestion that Keating’s channel was not navigable.

 Notices Were Posted.

“But last summer the Harbor Commissioners posted conspicuous notices along the channel warning the public that the cut was ‘for sanitary purposes only’ &, that ‘persons using it for navigation do so at their own risk.” 

Cannot Understand Reasons.

 “Assuming for the moment, that the Harbor Board is within the law in what it has done, does that make it honest or decent? If the Harbor Board had aproached [sic] us & we had put forward demand which they thought were unwarranted there might perhaps be some justification. But the harbor Board had never approached any of us in any manner whatever except to intimate that no attention is to be paid to us. The members of the board are gentlemen of reputation & we are sure that neither Mr. Lionel H. Clarke nor Mr. F.S. Spence nor Mr. Home Smith nor Controller Church would, for his personal advantage, do what they as a board are doing in this case. & we are also quite sure the citizens of Toronto whose servants the members of the Harbor Board are, do not desire them to destroy us in order that the city may be saved what it would cost to compensate us for our loss.[217]


Every town & City Along Great Lakes Must Purify Sewage Before Dumping.

Toronto Takes Lead

Pace for Sewage Treatment Set Here Before Orders Are Given.

Towns on both sides of the Great Lakes will soon have to prevent pollution according to members of the Joint Commission. “a general clean-up must take place & that the towns & cities on the shores should bear the burden of the purification process.”

Multi-million dollar expense.

“In essence, this means that all the points on the shore line from the St. Lawrence River to the head of the great lakes will be required to treat their sewage, & that not one quart of raw effluent will be dumped into the current.”

“One gratifying feature of the investigation has been the discovery that Toronto alone has taken steps of this kind on her own initiative, & has set & example to places on both sides of the line. This city has gone even further in sewage purification than the commission’s regulations will call for.”[218]

1915  March 13 “Toronto at the present time is defending a suit for damages through destruction of fisheries by filling up of the bay by sewage.

Before the sewage was allowed to be deposited in Ashbridge’s Bay, the claimants declare that the water was almost drinkable, & all kinds of edible fish could be caught near the shore. Now there is a green turbidity, caused by the presence of a large amount of decomposed & decomposing organic matter, which under certain conditions of temperature forms a thick yellowish-green scum on the surface of the water, which, when blown ashore, gives off an offensive, nauseating odor. These conditions, it is alleged are due to the action of the city in discharging sewage.”[219]

1915 The new Keating Channel—wider & slightly south of its previous alignment—was dredged in 1914; by the spring of 1915, the channel had been reinforced & the river diverted for the final time.

1915 June 2 by 1915 the City claimed that it was too expensive to stop the stench, estimating it would cost $2,500,000.  The Morley Avenue residents tried to have the city arrested for creating a nuisance.

The Morley avenue septic tank, probably the most talked-of civic nuisance in Ward One, is again in the limelight. This time the Police Department, at the instance of a number of ratepayers yesterday indicted the city on a charge of maintaining a nuisance. The summons has been served on Solicitor Johnston, who will appear in the Police Court to defend the case.

Mayor Thomas (Tommy) Church called in Assistant Solicitor Colquhoun, Dr. Charles Hastings, the Medical Officer of Health, & Deputy City Engineer Powell before the Board of Control to ask they were going to do to stop the smell. Dr. Hastings & Commissioner of Works R.C. Harris, had been testing different methods & concluded that it cost too much to stop the smell entirely. Church said that he always been opposed to building the plant, & “if he had his way he would relegate it to the scrap heap.” However, this populist mayor had no alternatives.[220]

August 7, 1915 In August 1915, the City’s own experts reported back to Council. To get rid of the offensive odors would supposedly cost 6 million dollars, according to the report of Commissioner Harris & Dr. Charles Hastings.  “all experiments for the improvement of the present system were without result”…They recommended that Imhoff tanks be installed but that would cost $6 million. They also recommended opening a channel to Ashbridge’s Bay presumably to let the sewage drain into the lake.[221]


Nov 2 1917 All Necessary Harbor Work Will Go Ahead

Hon. F. B. Carbell Relieves Toronto’s Fears – No Undue Cuts to Be Made

New Minister Sees Waterfront Here

“Both parties are More Willing to Make Sacrifices in Maritimes Than in Ontario”

“No harbor improvements in Toronto will be discontinued which are necessary for the prosecution of the war,” declared Hon. F. B. Carvell, Minister of Public Works, speaking to The Star to-day.

When seen by the Star, the new Minister of the Union government was enjoying a smoke in the rotunda of the Harbor restaurant at Sunnyside. Mr. Carvell’s active nature was evidence by the fact that while many of them were sitting down, he was walking up & won in front of the fireplace.

Traversed Waterfront.

During the morning, Mr. Carvell, had covered the whole waterfront from Ashbridge’s Bay to the Humber. He was particularly interested in the work of the British Forgings Plant at Ashbridge’s Bay. He was accompanied by E.I. Cousins, chief engineer of the Toronto Harbor Commission: Roger Miller, chairman of the Supervisory Board of Engineers; Fred Hand, the Government resident engineer; Fred Miller, of the Imperial Munitions Board; L.H. Clarke, chairman of the Toronto Harbor Commission, & John Sweeney, manger of the Canadian Stewart Company.

“Is it true that you have said that you will stop the Toronto harbor improvement work?” asked The Star.

“Give Me a Chance.”

“You had better give me a chance,” replied Mr. Carvell. “If I say I will, I likely will, but I haven’t said so yet. The Government will be reasonable in everything it does, but it must be considered that there is a need for retrenchment all over Canada. You may tell the people of Toronto, however, that no work will be stopped which is necessary for the prosecution of the war.”

Big Cut in East.

“It has been said that you are spending money on harbor improvements at St. John & Halifax & slighting Toronto,” stated The Star.

“I have cut off an appropriation of one million dollars that was passed at the last session for the St. John harbor, & don’t think that shows that I have favored the East. The work at Halifax is under the supervision of the Railway Department.”

“Do you feel at home in your new position?” asked the Star.

“I have lots of work to do,” replied the Minister. “If that means that I am at home I suppose I am.”

During his tour of the harbor work Mr. Carvell was joined by Mayor Church.

Of the 171 acres that have been reclaimed by the harbor improvement work 150 are being used for war purposes, & consequently it is not believed that Mr. Carvell will use the axe on the Toronto improvements.[222]

1917 The Munitions Board  built a $3 million plant on the Eastern Harbor Terminals.  It occupied 60 acres. The Harbour Commission was in charge of the work, building electrical & forging facilities.  Dockings & rail lines were built near Cherry Street to accommodate the plant.[223]  An electrically-operated bascule bridge built at that time still spans the Keating Channel at Cherry Street & is the main route by car or truck to the Portlands.

1917 The Don Destructor was built on Dundas Street on the east bank of the Don River. This huge garbage incinerator was cutting edge technology at the time.  It was closed down in 1969 & in 2004 deemed unsafe & demolished.[224]

1918  According to John McPherson Ross:

Ashbridge Bay…was a beautiful sheet of water when I first saw it in the summer of 1863, & was clean & good enough to drink, abounding in fish, & was the haunt of numerous wild fowl all summer.  In the stormy, rainy fall, it was alive with wild ducks of all kinds that came to rest on their southern flight & to feed on plentiful masses of wild rice that grew in numerous patches. The marsh covered the shallow waters of the eastern part of the bay at the commencement of the sand bar by the foot of Woodbine avenue, as this roadway is now called. When the racetrack of that name was first built the marsh growth ended where the deep water started, & began again intermittently a little west of Leslie street. It was quite a fine sheet of water, & at the time of speaking the lake had made a cut at about the size of the present entrance.

Peculiarly weird & picturesque would be scenes in the marsh before the spring growth had started, when parties would go spearing pike. Generally always 2, one had to paddle, while the spearer would stand in the bow. An iron contrivance called a “jack,” filled with several pine knots in full blaze, was fastened in front of the boat, & threw a lurid flame on the dark waters below, revealing a gliding pike, attracted by the light & coming to his speedy death, for the skillful spearer impaled in on his barbed spear. On dark nights in early spring it was a common sight to see a dozen or more parties, with the jacklights flitting slowly over the marsh, like so many will-o-wisps luring the fish to their doom. Later in the century, although it was no longer possible to spear salmon, fishers used fishing pole, hook & line to catch pike, bass & muskellunge off the wharves. In the winter they fished through the ice: As the ice got thicker the little houses of the fishermen would appear scattered over the bays, in spots selected, where the currents brought the wily pike. Here inside in the dark would sit a hardy fisherman, smoking his tobacco, black & strong, now mostly used for chewing as the lighter of yellow kind was not then in ordinary use. The water would be full of greenish light, & the fisher, either with hook or spear, watched this spot with catlike faithfulness, his patience being fully rewarded when he would land a 7 or 8 pound pike.

The Ashbridge Bay & the marsh in those days was a very important feature as it furnished the residents of the neighborhood a place for recreation for old & young of both sexes. There were always plenty of boats owned in the vicinity, & for hire. In the long summer evenings boating parties were the favorite amusements till late at night. Music & singing filled the air & echoed along the shores. The plaintive strains of “Nelly Gray,” or “Willie Has Gone to the War,” to the accompaniment of accordeon or concertina, were usually the favorite songs, sometimes varied with “The Charming Young Widow I Met on the Train,” or “Molly Brown,” the last a pleasing melody of the time much favored by the sentimental lads & lassies of the day. Especially on the moonlight nights, the placid waters of the bay would be well patronized, & the air made melodious by the songs just mentioned, while in the darker reaches of the marsh you could hear the drooping notes of the coot & the harsh cries of the mudhen.

But when the marsh was frozen hard, busy scenes were enacted. Men could be seen cutting & gathering the marsh hay, to be used for bedding horses or for stuffing mattresses. Great quantities were frequently used for core making in the foundries of that time.

The first element to spoil the purity of the bay waters was the liquid excreta of the cattle byres which were built by the marsh-side a little east of the Don to use surplus hot swill, a by-product from the distilleries after the spirits were distilled. This waste liquid manure was run off into the bay & so sullied its waters as to lead to damage suits, which were entered against the company by boatmen whose business were affected, claiming they could not hire out their boats as the fishing was spoiled. Other parties also claimed damages on property grounds, claiming that they byres prevented sales of land, the renting of houses, from the very nature of the business & the general unsightliness of the plant or buildings. The claims were settled for certain monetary considerations accepted by the plaintiffs & the planting of several rows of quick growing trees to hide the unsightly buildings. The nuisance still remained & was a great detriment to the fair name of the east end from that day to this, besides hiding the pollution of a considerable area of the bay or marsh.

The opening of Eastern avenue & the building of the houses, coupled with the necessary sewage from the different streets, fouled all the water, which soon came to be little better than an open cesspool. This created such an outcry from the public that he Keating Cut was made along the face of the windmill line to make a current from the lake to the City  bay, which somewhat improved the sanitary conditions for a while.  The city began to fill portions of the front marsh with garbage & excavations which made solid land, but previous to this the Government made some improvements as a piling from the Don outflow over to the Island, which formed a roadway that enabled summer residents on Fisherman’s Island to go back & forth to their homes.  The boundaries of the marsh proper began to shrink & many schemes were advocated to improve & use the Bay…The establishment of the septic tanks was the last straw, the crowning disgrace to be placed there. The poor old bay … became a place to be shunned, & what was a place of pleasure on holidays for many to enjoy a day of fishing or rowing, or sailing, or in the winter season for skating or ice-boating, became a place to be avoided winter & summer.

The main part of the bay, when the ice was clear, & before it was thick enough for the ice harvest, would be covered with hundreds of people skating, & the merry shouts of the boys as they skated & played “shinny” made a lively & tumultuous sight, while ever & anon would come a booming sound as the pent-up currents of water underneath surged heavily against the imprisoned top. Oh, the joy of those days that the writer recalls—to be young & strong, with a sharp pair of skates fastened to your top-boots & the long straps securely crossed & buckled tight, & a clear mile of smooth ice before you to go bounding over; a strong shinny & a puck of hard maple to knock, dodging & twisting over the glassy surfaces. The joys of the present youth have nothing on those bygone thrills.

 The ice of Ashbridge’s Bay was used to hold races. Men laid out a mile track on the bay.  Large crowds attended the races & enjoyed refreshments served by vendors whose little wooden shacks dotted the ice. Whiskey & beer, flowed copiously, cheap & strong.

Trappers got plenty of muskrats & it was a common sight to see numerous figures out in the marsh with a bag on their shoulders & a spear-like weapon to dig out the rats from their winter houses or catch them in traps set for the purpose.

The fishermen who lived along Kingston Road (later called Queen Street) owned many large sailboats, probably mostly schooners. Many a large sailboat might be seen those days at any time near the sidewalk on the Kingston road, later called Queen street. 1918 “Quite a colony of fishermen lived near by, among whom we remember the names of Doherty, Laings, Marsh, Goodwin, Crothers & others who, if not fishermen, were duck-hunters or trappers. Or they also enjoyed the boating, fishing, & bathing privileges which were here in all their primeval abundance & purity of nature become becoming soiled & destroyed by the sewage & filth of the encroaching city.”

When the ice got to be 6 to 8 inches, then the icemen appeared & several parties would commence the winter harvest. Great ice-houses in those days lined the bay at convenient spots for floating in the crystal blocks. This continued for several weeks, & was a busy time while it lasted. They generally saved all that the modest city required in those days, & it was not till the mild winter of 1880-81 that efforts were made to secure ice, outside, from Lake Simcoe, for the usual supply. Ice was cut, though, for many years afterwards till it was finally stopped by the city officials as being unfit for use. Up till then crowds of men & teams were kept busy in the operations of the ice harvest by the different companies engaged in that business.

On days when the east winds were throwing up big breakers on the Island quite strong seas came sending over the bay, sufficient sometimes to wash out by the roots large poplars that grew on the street now called Leslie.  In those times several creeks added their quota of waters to the bay.  The overflow of Small’s Pond & a small creek at about Kenilworth avenue ended in the marsh, another one came through Ashbridge’s farm. One coming through Hastings’ & crossed the Kingston road & emptied into the gut, as it was then known. This gut was quite a sheet of water & formed a little harbor made use of by the fishermen who lived near it, & who ran their boats up the channel to the back of their lots which ended on the water.

Another creek started near the Danforth road & rand near the sandpit down through several market gardens, crossing the Kingston road at the foot of Pape’s lane, by a big willow tree that grew there on the south side, & ended its journey in the marsh that came almost to the road.  This marsh was filled with willows, alders & other growths that made quite a thicket, & was the roosting places of many wood-ducks & other denizens of this safe, marshy, woodland retreat, such as the bittern, woodcock, snipe, plover, sandpipers, & crow blackbirds or grackle. In fact, here & elsewhere wild life was teeming, & the naturalists of those days might revel in the enjoyment of their favorite study.  The marsh continued south & was unbroken till it ended at the Island, then went westward, with the exception of a patch of clear water of several acres’ extent, known as Brown’s Pond, which skirted the shore edge of such properties as Heward’s, Gorrie’s, Blong’s, Clark’s & ended with Smith’s, which also ended on the Don River. I omitted mentioning a creek that also started near the sandpit & ran through the gardens of Cooper’s, Bests & Hunters, crossed the road by the Leslie Postoffice. Here it joined a small creek that drained the nursery, & both crossed Leslie street under a bridge that has since been filled up by intersecting sewers. [225]

1919 Thomas Thompson of Pape Avenue, drowned off the foot of Morley Avenue (now Woodfield Road). He was 17. 6 young men were rowing an overloaded dinghy out to a sailboat in Ashbridge’s Bay. A big wave capsized the boat. Five survived, one died. “Although the 6 of them made a heavy load for the punt they all set out from the foot of Morley avenue for the 200 yard row & were about half-way then the upset occurred. They sat a huge wave partially swamped the boat & that they were all precipitated into the water when 2 of the men who were deluged by the water stood up in the boat..[226]

1920 The Eastern Harbor Terminals became an industrial area devoted to heavy & light manufacturing, containing 644 acres of factory sites, 233 acres of streets & railroad reservations & 130 acres of waterways.  The ship channel was 6,800 feet long, 400 feet wide & 24 feet deep. It terminated in a turning basin 1,100 feet square. The work created over 5 miles of dockage, & could accommodate boats of 24 feet draught.[227] Toronto naturalist Charles Sauriol remembered “vivid recollections of the smell of burning garbage that hung over the area during the “fill” operation.[228]

1921 The Ashbridges Bay work of the Harbor Commission had already produced 450 acres of land fully reclaimed & another 400 acres partially reclaimed. They had produced 2 miles of new streets, 2 ½ miles of concrete sidewalks, water mains & sewers & 5 miles of railway sidings. 204 industries were operating there. New industries quickly moved in. An electrically operated Bascule Bridge built at that time still spans the Keating Channel at Cherry Street & is the main route by car or truck to the Portlands.[229]

1921  The Don Rowing Club asked the THC to provide a new place for their clubhouse. It did not happen.

1923 The THC completed landfill operations. By then, to the consternation of local residents & the rowers, the Dons, the THC’s landfill operations began gobbling up Woodbine Beach.


Health Authorities Consider Small Dwellings Unfit for Habitation

Protest was made at the City Hall yesterday on behalf of residents of Woodbine Beach, a strip of land between Ashbridge’s bay & Lake Ontario, lying south of the Woodbine race-track, who have been ordered by the Medical Health Department to vacate their houses, as they are reported unfit for human habitation, not being served by civic sewer & water systems.

These houses, 40 in number, are nearly all owned by their occupants. They are workingmen’s small homes, & are built on land leased from the Harbor Commission one one-year renewable leases. The Medical health Department some time ago notified the Harbor Commission that the houses would have to be closed up unless the commission installed sewers & water mains there. The commission refused to do this, on the ground that the land would soon be used for purposes other than accommodation of dwellings, & therefore the commission was not justified in spending a large sum of money to put in sewer & water services for a short period of time.

The residents secure their drinking water from wells in the sand, & claim it is pure. The Medical Health Department claims the wells are contaminated, & that conditions are extremely favorable for the outbreak of a bad typhoid epidemic.[230]

1924 4 children drowned in McNamee’s Cut.  Some teenagers were ferrying a crowd of about 20 children on a make-shift raft through the cut near the foot of Cherry Street into Ashbridge’s Bay. Young people from Fishermen’s Island had made the raft for their convenience & to allow the young people to go over to sandbar & swim. The raft was about 10 feet by 6 feet. The children overloaded it & when it began to rock, they all rushed to one side, & the flimsy craft tipped over, throwing the children, many very young, into the Bay. Teenagers on the raft, on nearby sailboats & on shore rescued the children. The dead were: ROBERT LONG, 325 Wilton avenue, aged 7 years. GERTIE HARVEY, 22 Sumach street, aged 12 years. ALBERT DIRSCOLL, 99 Trinity street, aged 3 years. WILLIE BYTHELL, 101 Trinity street, aged 9 years. [231]



Billed for $1,200 Rental & Ask to be Relieved

“The city ought to pay us for staying there,” said Hon. Joseph Thompson, speaker of the legislature, in addressing the board of control to-day on behalf of a deputation from the Don Rowing Club, asking relief from the payment of a bill of $1,200 for rental of the land occupied by the club at the foot of Woodfield road. Mr. Thompson said that distressing conditions had set in since the club located there, these being due to the proximity of the sewerage disposal plant. The result was that the membership had decreased. He contended that there was a verbal arrangement under which the club was to pay a nominal rental & it had not received a bill for 12 years until a month ago when one for $1,200 was presented. The board referred the request to the assessment commissioner for a report.[233]

1925 Lakeshore Blvd. was built & was considered by some to spoil the waterfront.[234]

1926 RC Harris hired engineer George Nasmith (the man who introduced chlorination to the city a decade earlier) and a Boston engineer, Harrison Eddy, to develop a plan to treat North Toronto’s sewage. Nasmith and Eddy recommended a cutting-edge technique, known as “activated sludge aeration,” which involved forcing compressed air into the waste water to accelerate the decomposition of organic material. The liquid would be filtered and left to settle. The sediment was then dried to create “sludge cakes,” an odourless substance similar to low-grade fertilizer. Testing showed the treated waste water had very low levels of bacterial contamination.

1927 Beach residents were concerned that the Harbor Commission would develop the beach even east of Woodbine Avenue. They wanted the beaches placed in the hands of the Parks Committee for more parkland. The residents would clearly fight any attempt to industrialize the Beach. (Plans to run a major rail corridor through the Beach came to an end.) By that point, Ashbridge’s Bay was thick with sewage.  The Dons were so nauseated that they threw up while rowing, their oars digging deep into human excrement.   The water was now so shallow that what had been deep holes were only now inches deep.

The Beach was not about to be industrialized as Ashbridge’s Bay had been & residents were there to fight any threat. Residents of the East End were concerned that the Toronto Harbor Commission under General Langtin, would develop the beach east of Woodbine Avenue. Residents wanted the beach placed in the hands of the Parks Committee for development of more parkland. Langtin stated that no further filling east of Leslie Street would be carried on. The City’s permission would be need for that because of the Morley street sewage disposal plant. To develop the beach east of Woodbine Avenue would be require expropriating property. Alderman Baker asked that the Commission forward copies these assurances to the aldermen from the East End. “This is a very serious thing for us,” he said.[235]

1929 North Toronto treatment plant built in the Don Valley, south of Laird Drive. The city doubled its capacity a few years later and the facility has been operating smoothly ever since. Meanwhile, the Main Sewage Plant was overflowing constantly because it was designed to serve a population half the city’s size. Generated dozens of lawsuits from aggrieved residents.

1930 Power cruiser, 41 feet, splendid condition, full one-man control, every convenience, owner must sell. Dawson’s Boat House, foot of Woodfield, or phone Adelaide 0902. [236]

1931 The vigorous hunting of the day virtually wiped out many species & did, in fact, exterminate some.  The abundant Mallard ducks we see along the Toronto waterfront are descendants of tame birds released in 1931. They may also be the offspring of wild Mallards who expanded their range, out-competing Black Ducks for habitat.[237]

1931 RC Harris hired consultants to come up with options for a new, modern plant, to be built anywhere but the Ashbridge’s Bay area. He turned to Nasmith and Eddy, the engineer’s responsible for the North Toronto plant.

1932 Don Rowing Club’s rebuilt clubhouse again went up in flames. Bob Dibble, local businessman & war hero, applied for land on behalf of the Dons near Coatsworth Cut, but this fell through. The Don Rowing Club left.

1932 In 1932 City of Toronto began building the R.C. Harris Water Filtration Plant on Victoria Park.  The west wing of the plant was finished in 1936, but the east wing was not added until the 1950s, although it was done in the same style & of the same materials.  The architect was William Pomphrey.  Ottawa has declared the treatment plant a National Historic Civil Engineering Site. This treatment plant is much like the one on Toronto Island in its technology, but on a larger scale. A massive concrete & steel tunnel 15 metres (50 to 60 feet) below the surface stretches 3 km (a mile & half) out into Lake Ontario. It was cut through solid rock as the water intake for the plant.[238] A second intake tunnel was dug to increase the water supply. A main water supply tunnel is located 20 metres below the street & across the city.  There are as well several reservoirs.[239]  The plant can supply 650 million litres/day. In 1946 the plant was named for Roland Caldwell Harris, Commissioner of Works 1912 -1945.[240]

1933 Nasmith and Eddy proposed building a state-of-the-art activated sludge plant at the mouth of Highland Creek, several kilometres east. The city’s waste water would be collected by large “interceptor” sewers and pumped through a long pipe to this new facility, which would be built to satisfy the eventual needs of a city of 1.5 million people. The sludge cakes could be sold to Scarborough farmers for use as fertilizer. The downside: the long pipe would add $12 million to the cost, bringing the total to $25 million. The aldermen on the works committee put Ashbridge’s Bay site, for one thing, was back in contention, despite warnings from both Harris and Eddy that it made little sense to put a huge sewage plant near busy beaches and the city’s new water filtration plant, by then under construction.

1935 Harris’ consultants, in a 1935 report, wrote, “We are not convinced that the sludge from the Ashbridge’s Bay plant can be incinerated with economy and with assurance of freedom from offensive odours.”

1939 The city appointed five technical experts to take a fresh look at the problem and come up with a recommendation. But that process also foundered and the panel couldn’t come to a consensus. In a final report released in 1939, four of the five urged the city to build a $9.5-million plant large enough to serve 700,000 people, with a “complete” treatment process based on the technology successfully in use at North Toronto.



1940 City of Toronto decided to build a new Main Sewage Treatment Plant — located on 40 hectares of lakefill just steps from the city’s best beaches. In the Second World War, the provincial Department of Health tried to convince the City of Toronto to build a new & more modern sewage treatment plant on Ashbridges’ Bay.  The Province was concerned about the possibility of raw effluent spreading polio, especially to swimmers enjoying the near-by beaches. The old Morley Avenue plant was basically a drainage pumping station, built in 1912, & septic tanks. It was inadequate & antiquated.  The City agreed to build a new seawall & plant — eventually.  Even if this was done, they were aware that peak storm water flows would likely still carry raw sewage into the lake. They downplayed the consequences & alleged there was no way to get around the problem.  City council and voters backed W.D. Redfern’s cheaper option. In his view, there was simply no reason for the city to completely treat its sewage water because the bacterial contaminants that remained after settling would be diluted once dumped into the lake. It was an old and long-discredited notion. “By taking advantage of this natural resource,” Redfern insisted, “the cost of the treatment plant is reduced considerably as well as the annual operating expenses.” His “partial treatment” solution cost just $5.6 million.

1943 City Council even passed a bylaw requiring future commissioners to be engineers (Harris had no formal training).

1944 City begins construction of new Main Sewage Treatment Plant.

1945 RC Harris died of a heart attack. 1951 New Main Sewage Treatment Plant plant finally opened.

1945 Frank Smith, woodcarver, naturalist.

“I was born on Fisherman’s Island, near the foot of Cherry Street…in the days when there was no limit on the number of ducks a man could shoot. A man by the name of William Loan used to make his living shooting ducks & in trapping in Ashbridge’s marsh. He rowed a 14-foot boat & carried a 4-gauge shotgun, & I’ve seen him fill that boat with ducks so that he couldn’t put another one in it.”

“He belongs to the Field Naturalists’ club & the Ornithologists’ club of Toronto, & every second Saturday morning he explains to a class of boys & girls at the Ontario Museum how to carve birds from wood & how to recognize them in the field.

He carried his hobby a step farther when he found that many of the harmless, useful birds of the Toronto district were being shot by careless or ignorant boys. He became a deputy game warden.

…As a field ornithologist, he helps Herbert Southam, official bird bander for Ontario, affix bands to the legs of migratory birds, so that the habits of the birds can be learned.

“Last year we fixed a band to the leg of a sandpiper & we heard, through Washington, where the records are kept, that it was found, 10 days later, in Montevideo, South America. It had flow thousands of miles in the 10 days, besides stopping to eat & sleep. “There are,” said Frank, “about 20,000 amateur naturalists in Toronto, & there is no finer hobby, nor one that will give you better health, than watching the birds & learning about them.[241]

1950 From 1950 to 1988 the Commissioners Street incinerator burned much of Toronto’s trash, polluting Leslieville’s air & continuing the tradition of treating the East End as Toronto’s waste disposal grounds. The last Ashbridge’s Marsh was filled in to make land for the Main Sewage Treatment Plant. Harper’s Dump was full. Dumping then shifted south of Eastern Avenue, east of Leslie Street, filling the last of the Ashbridge’s Bay wetland. It did not take long. [242]

1953 Ashbridges Bay was one of 18 wastewater treatment plants scattered across the 13 municipalities that made up the Toronto area. Most of these plants were overloaded and ill-equipped to serve their drainage area in a period of dramatic population growth.

1954 One of the first decisions made by the new Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto government in 1954 was to stop the construction of small wastewater treatment plants and replace them with larger ones that could handle the wastewater of several municipalities. Consequently, some of the smaller wastewater treatment plants were converted into wastewater pumping stations for the four large wastewater treatment plants which were in operation by 1960.

1955 In 1955 The Main, Highland Creek & Humber Bay sewage treatment plants opened. [243] The Leslie Street Spit or “East Headland” was begun as a place to dump fill from the construction of Toronto’s subway.

1956 The Eastern Gap was 18 feet deep.

1958 Many were expecting that the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway would provided the same shipping boom to Toronto as the opening of the Welland Canal.  The demand for a modern port was high.

1958 In a Globe & Mail article, attention was focused on the disappearance of public beaches, the loss of nature, the fouling of picnic areas & parks with garbage, vandalism & crime in parks, & pollution.  In particular, it was obvious that raw sewage was overtaxing the treatment system & going into the lake & harbour.  There were calls for a new Ashbridge’s Bay sewage treatment plant[244]

1961 Dr. Norman Scollard, Curator of the Riverdale Zoo, released Canada geese on Toronto Island.  They multiplied & became decoys for their wild cousins, drawing them in from the sky.  The Department of Lands & Forests contracted with the Kortright Waterfowl Park, Guelph, to release geese at various points around Ontario.

1964 A boater’s lobby pushed the City to build a new harbor for marinas between Coxwell & Leslie Street using landfill, mostly construction debris.[245]

1965 Frank Smith, a member of the Toronto Ornithological Club, who died in 1965, said:

I have seen thousands of Muskrat houses built in it at one time & am safe to say that as many as 10 to twelve thousand rats would be taken in one spring….It was a problem catching Mud Turtles.  The best way was undressing & taking a sack, walk in the water up to your armpits & when you stepped on a turtle you would duck under, get him, & put him in the sack [sic].  I have taken as many as seventy-give to a hundred in one day in this way & sold them in the market for turtle soup.[246]

1967 Cultural modifications of the shoreline changed dramatically with the advent of the 1967 Waterfront Plan developed by Metro Toronto. Lakefilling activities were directed away from creating port & industrial lands & focussed on creating a series of regional waterfront recreational parks. The parks provided waterfront access, local greenspace, boating facilities, & — most important to this strategy — aquatic habitats. [247]

1969 The East Headland or Spit was considered finished. It was not.  Meant to be 1.6 miles long, it kept growing & growing.

1970 In the 1970s, Mayor Crombie set up a task force to recover industrial jobs that had fled the city for the suburbs.  The plan called for the creation of a 472 acre industrial park on the former Ashbridges’’ Marsh.  Most of the land was owned by oil companies.  The plan called for bike paths, waterfront vistas, parks & services. The Crombie Plan called for bike paths, waterfront vistas, parks & services to revitalize the waterfront. The Plan called for the creation of a 472 acre industrial park on the former Ashbridge’s Marsh.  Most of the land was owned by oil companies & some of it was very contaminated, land called “brownfields”. In the 1970’s, the Metro Toronto & Region Conservation Authority began to develop a series of lakefill parks along the waterfront (Colonel Sam Smith, Humber Bay, Ashbridge’s Bay, & Bluffers Parks) to provide recreation opportunities for a rapidly increasing urban population.

1970 The Olympic dream has haunted Toronto for some time.  In the early 1970s, Mayor William Denison wanted the 1976 Olympics for Toronto & commissioned a masterplan by Proctor, Redfern, Bousfield & Bacon.  A small boat harbour was planned for Ashbridges’ Bay.  We did not get the Olympics.

1971 The Province passed Ontario’s Ontario Environment Protection Act, a significant milestone in Leslieville, laying the legal basis for citizens to fight pollution in this sometimes heavily-contaminated working class neighbourhood.

1972 Most of Toronto Harbour was now 8.2 metres deep, as was, for example, the Western Gap, but shipping by boat was declining.[248] The Government of Canada donated 100 acres to the city for public use — Harbourfront.[249]

1973 Concerned about high levels of lead in their children’s blood, BREMM, a local citizens’ group, demanded that the government start blood tests of residents in the area around the foundry. On September 11, 1973, Ontario’s Environment Ministry issued a control order against Canada Metals &, shortly after, on Oct. 26, 1973, the Environment Ministry issued an order to Canada Metals to stop emitting lead & lead compounds. The Ministry said that the discharges presented “an immediate threat to the health of residents” living in the vicinity of the sprawling foundry. Medical experts from the Ministry of Health & the Toronto Board of Health advised the Environment Ministry of the dangers the pollution presented. [250] 4 days later a court disallowed the Stop Order because the judge decided that no health hazard could be attributed solely to Canada Metals. [251]

In November activists held a community meeting on the lead pollution. At this meeting, citizens were appalled when they learned the results of blood testing in the area. Potentially harmful lead levels were found in about 50 of the 732 tests. Many of those with high lead levels were children at Bruce School on Larchmount Avenue.

Dr. Parkinson of the Hospital for Sick Children claimed that the Ontario government held back evidence in court. Many concluded that the Province was trying to avoid shutting down the foundry. People learned that the Environment Ministry had been negotiating for years with Canada Metals about improving pollution control at the plant. Speakers also told the meeting that 16 times when lead in the air near the plant was above the legal maximum — in the first part of 1973 alone. The monthly dust fall of lead was higher than the legal maximum every month from January to July 1973. [252]

1974 In August 1974 concerned health professionals & citizens formed a Working Group on Lead Emissions at Canada Metal. The working group recommended control procedures; monitoring of lead levels; regular blood tests of residents; & a clean-up of soil in the neighbourhood. In January 1975 public hearings began & continued to October 9, 1975. [253]

1974 From 1958 to 1974, 2,842,000 dump trucks loaded with clean fill dumped at the Spit.

1970’s mid-1970s: Ashbridge’s Bay Park constructed

1975 new Ashbridge’s Bay Pumping Station was built.

1976 On April 5, 1976, the Ministry of the Environment issued a control order to abate fugitive emissions & from plant spills. On October 12, 1976, on the Environment Hearing Board’s recommendations, a committee of residents’ group representatives, company representatives, & government officials formed. Another public meeting, this time sponsored by the Committee, discussed the lead issue (November 1976). [254]

1977 In March 1977 The Environmental Hearing Board recommendations were tabled. Of the 103 recommendations, 39 were already completed or under way. Upset with slow progress, representatives of residents’ groups resigned from the Committee. [255]

Workers excavated contaminated soil from neighbourhood lawns & gardens in June & July 1977 at a cost of $80,000. [256]

1977 The Metro Waterfront Advisory Board adopted a plan to add 22 acres of parkland & 600 feet of beach to Ashbridge’s Bay & Woodbine BeachPublic mooring & launching facilities were added along with a new site for the Ashbridge’s Bay Yacht Club. The Beach board walk was extended from Woodbine Beach to the new park at Ashbridge’s Bay.  1,200 feet of protected sand beach were added in the new landfill area (now the site of beach volleyball tournaments).

Ashbridges Bay Park officially opened.

1979 On April 18, 1979, an Ontario Environment Ministry official acknowledged that there was new lead contamination of the soil in the neighbourhood around Canada Metals. He admitted that the Government had not informed residents because “it would only upset them”. The Ministry had known about the new lead findings since November 1978, but had not acted. On April 23, 1979, readings for airborne lead are published in the media. Lead levels in the air reached illegal levels 10 times in June 1978, five times in July 1978, 8 times in August, 9 times in September, 15 times in October, 8 times in November, 9 times in December, & five times in January 1979. In June 1979 another community meeting on lead pollution convened. This time the South Riverdale Community Health Centre organized the event. People bought forth evidence suggesting that “acceptable” lead levels were pollution are too not stringent enough to protect health.

In October 1979 a new liaison committee formed to examine the lead levels around Canada Metals plant & in the same month the Toronto Board of Health & Ministry of the Environment approved building of a new apartment building at Pape & Eastern, near the Canada Metals plant (& close to the A.R. Clarke Tannery). The City Neighbourhoods Committee later recommends approval be delayed for a year until everyone could be sure that Canada Metals had complied with the latest control order against it. [257]

1979 Public concern was mounting over the stench from the smell of burning sludge at the Main Sewage Treatment Plant.  At that time the Ashbridges’ sewage treatment plant handled up to 180 million gallons of raw sewage every day.  In a rainstorm, at peak flow it received 600 million gallons of which it treated 200 million & let 400 million go directly into the lake.[258] The Ashbridges’ Bay sewage treatment plant is the largest in Canada, but it had problems even going back to the seventies.  Local residents were complaining of the stink from the plant.  2 new incinerators were built to burn the sludge & solve the problem.  The plant itself was thought to be a serious polluter.  At that time, Ashbridges’ sewage treatment plant discharged 100 million gallons of effluent into the lake every day.  While Metro claimed it was 99% pure, others had doubts.

Ashbridges’ sewage treatment plant also burned sludge.  The ash that remained contained sand, iron, lead, etc.  It was turned back into “rock” & reused as road fill.  Scrubbers & jets of water removed contaminants from the smoke that then went up into the atmosphere — a sickly, yellowish plume.  At that time there was 3 small stacks, then there was one single 600-foot stack that spread particulate matter higher in the air.  The ash with its load of arsenic, lead, mercury, etc., settled in sewage lagoons.  In 1979, the Ashbridges’ sewage treatment plant handled up to 180 million gallons of raw sewage every day.  In a rainstorm, at peak flow it received 600 million gallons of which it treated 200 million & let 400 million go directly into the lake.

Combined sewers were part of the problem, but another was contaminants such as lead & oil from the streets washed into the storm sewers with rain.  PCBs also washed into the sewer system.

1980 On February 22, 1980, the courts gave Canada Metals a suspended sentence after it pled guilty to charges of air pollution. The judge said argued that it was justified to suspend the sentence because Canada Metals was a good corporate citizen, because there is “no physical possibility of recurrence of the offence”, & because there was little, if any, harm done.[259]

1983 In 1983 a local activist group, Citizens for a Safe Environment (CSE) was founded. It soon focused on fighting the City of Toronto’s proposed new garbage incinerator – to be located in the east end.

1983 Toronto & Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) began dredging operations at the mouth of Coatsworth Cut to maintain navigation between Lake Ontario & the boating facilities located at Ashbridge’s Bay Park. Since at least the mid-1980s, the city has monitored bacteria levels around Ashbridges Bay & has found elevated readings.

1986 In 1986 T.S.I Trinktek proposed for this new incinerator for the Portlands area. CSE alerted Riverdale & Leslieville &, with public support, fought the proposal at City Hall. CSE persuaded the Ontario Government to designate the plan under the Environmental Assessment Act. They organized a petition against the 2 incinerator & got over 8,000 signatures.

1987 Environmental conditions were so badly impaired that the Toronto waterfront was included on the International Joint Commission’s list of 42 Areas of Concern around the Great Lakes requiring remedial action. The impairments noted for Toronto’s waterfront were:

  • Restrictions on fish & wildlife consumption
  • Degradation of benthos
  • Restrictions on dredging
  • Eutrophication & undesirable algae
  • Beach closures
  • Degradation of aesthetics
  • Degradation of fish & wildlife populations
  • Loss of fish & wildlife habitat

The key factors contributing to these problems were:

  1. combined sewer overflows,
  2. contaminated stormwater,
  3. loss of habitats,
  4. & degradation of natural landscapes.

In the past 25 years, eutrophication has been reduced, sediment quality has improved, & habitat availability & diversity have been increased, but Toronto remains on the list of Areas of Concern.

1987 ABWTP incinerators shut down.

1988 CSE vigorously campaigned to have the Commissioners Street incinerator closed & was finally successful in July 1988. Shortly afterwards CSE found out about a proposal to build a giant heat generating plant, again in the South Riverdale area, & persuaded the City of Toronto to reject the idea immediately.[260]  After lobbying for 8 years, the CSE had success when the Toronto City Council backtracked & voted against the new incinerator. Shortly afterwards CSE found out about a proposal to build a giant heat generating plant, again in the South Riverdale area, & persuaded the City of Toronto to reject the idea immediately.[261]

1990s Reports by Sandwell (1991) & Baird (1999) indicate ~10,000.00 m3 of sand per year bypass Headland. Dredging volumes & costs in Coatsworth Cut increase throughout 1990s

1990 Members of the Committee for Safe Sewage and Citizens for a Safe Environment began voicing concerns about long-standing odour issues at Ashbridges Bay during a 1990 environmental assessment of the plant. The contentious process dragged on for nine years until a mediation committee was created to iron out the various demands of the community, the city and its sewage.

1997 U of T at Scarborough archaeologist Marti Latta, with Dena Doroszenko of the Ontario Heritage Foundation, worked with U of T students to excavate the site of the original Ashbridge log cabin.  In addition to artifacts from the Ashbridges, the team found Native Canadian artifacts. These included Pickering Tradition ceramics (from 1300-1400 CE, ground stone tools, & projectile points ranging in age from 500 CE to what may be a late Paleo-Indian point from 6000 BCE. Archaeologists found more evidence of prehistoric native occupation. They found ash pits & artifacts. Human communities in the Leslieville area go back thousands of years.[262]

1998 1998, 1999 & 2000, the University of Toronto’s Department of Anthropology held archaeological field schools at the property. The Ontario Heritage Foundation partnered with the University of Toronto’s archaeological field school program.  A team of 25 students excavated about 30,000 artifacts. They uncovered a well & root cellar.[263] Students excavated the area of the earliest houses on the property. These consist of a log cabin (dating from as early as 1794) & the 1809 house – both of which stood until they were demolished in 1913. Evidence of the cabin cellar has been recorded, along with tens of thousands of artifacts dating from the late 18th century to the late 19th century. In addition, evidence of prehistoric native occupation was recorded. These consisted of ash pits & artifacts indicating that settlement in this area extended back several thousands of years.[264]

1999 Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation was established. The Toronto Port Authority replaced the Toronto Harbor Commission.  TRCA began to investigate shoreline modification options that would eliminate the need for annual maintenance dredging of Coatsworth Cut.

Main Treatment Plant changed to the Ashbridges Bay Treatment Plant because of an Environmental Assessment mediation process involving local residents & businesses.  Were plans to introduce a new method of treating the final effluent & bypass effluent using ultraviolet light instead of chlorine.  To be in place by 2005.  To upgrade the quality of effluent going out & improve the water in Ashbridges Bay, the City also plans to build a new discharge pipe further out in the lake.  End if the pipe solution. Putting the new outfall out further would prevent the pipe from becoming stopped up with sand.  It will be “beyond the sedimentation zone”.  Created a Landscape Architectural Site Plan with the Ashbridges Bay Treatment Plant Neighbourhood Liaison Committee (ABTPNL) sub-committee. Later destroyed for TTC car barns. City hoped to improve plant’s appearance & develop on-site stormwater management, & wetlands with native plantings.  Bicycle/walking trail done..  A Request for Proposals went out to five firms in early October of 1999, but it will be a while before this actually comes to place.  Criticism of the Plant – foul smelling smoke from incinerating sludge.  It hopes to use the sludge “bio-solids” for other purposes, improve the odour from the plant, better near shore water quality, enforce a new Sewer Use By-law, & bring Ultra Violet Disinfection on line.  Pellets – produces bio-solids in the form of pellets that farmers use for fertilizer.

2000 the (Robert Fung) Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Task Force Report was released to the public. The area is still a work in progress.

2002 Toronto’s Ashbridges Bay is contaminated with E. coli at levels more than 5,200 times the provincial standards. The Sierra Legal Defence Fund said its tests show that Ashbridges Bay & Coatsworth Cut, a nearby boat channel into Lake Ontario, are laced with raw sewage. Combined sanitary & storm-sewer pipes. Excess effluent is dumped into the lake. If the ministry finds that the city violated provincial environmental-protection rules, the fund wants legal orders forcing Toronto to comply with the law & stop pollution from entering the lake [265]

TRCA initiated an Environmental Assessment (EA) to remediate navigation hazards due to sediment building up in Coatsworth Cut. They identified 6 design plans and were evaluated them. The TRCA had to consider the impacts (positive & negative)e impacts including:

  • the existing physical, biological, socioeconomic & cultural environments
  • technical concerns (engineering)
  • cost & feasibility.

The TRCA suspended the EA because they wanted to wait for the City of Toronto’s Wet Weather Flow Management Master Plan & the Lake Ontario Park Master Plan to be completed.

The City of Toronto’s Wet Weather Flow Management Master Plan proposed a program totalling $1 billion over the next 25 year. It included:

  • public education
  • municipal operations
  • shoreline management
  • stream restoration
  • control measures at the end-of-pipe, during conveyance, & at the source.

The shoreline management proposals included building structures at the waterfront, near the mouths of Etobicoke Creek & the Humber River, to deflect pollution away from the beaches. The City of Toronto is unable to stop ongoing pollution (bacteria, nutrients & sediments) into the rivers and streams because it also comes from municipalities north of Toronto. The Wet Weather Flow Management Master Plan is supposed to improve waterfront aquatic habitats by:

  • reducing inputs of nutrients, sediments & chemical pollutants to the watercourses & Lake Ontario.
  • improvomg habitat conditions in the rivers & creeks.

2002 An odour control study was completed  and beginning in 2002 the area around the plant was also been redesigned into a large landscaped park.

2003 Waterfront Toronto announced a plan to naturalize the mouth of the Don as one of 4 priority projects for the Toronto waterfront. The Don Mouth Naturalization & Port Lands Flood Protection Project, planned with the TRCA, will “reestablish a natural, functioning wetland at the mouth of the Don River, while providing flood protection to approximately 230 ha of land south & east of the existing Keating Channel” (TRCA, 2008).

2003 ABWTP Incinerator closed.

2004: TRCA suspended Class EA due to potential water quality impacts & waterfront studies & planning initiatives underway in the area by City of Toronto & Waterfront Toronto.

2005 TRCA barged 35,000 cubic metres of silt from the Keating Channel & dumped it at the Leslie Street Spit. ABWTP A contract was awarded to design and construct a new odour control system.

2005 May. 14  Nose job GRAHAM DUNCAN Special to The Globe and Mail Saul Goldman, at the nearby Velotique bicycle shop, just west of Coxwell Avenue, concurs. “When the conditions are correct, you can really smell it,” he says. “We used to call it the dirty-diaper factory.”

2007 City of Toronto studied various methods for dealing with the overflow of raw sewage into Coatsworth Cut during storms. Combined sewers in sewersheds pour human waste into the lake especially during severe thunderstorms.  The City’s Wet Weather Flow Master Plan is a a long-term plan to provide stormwater management and finished in 2007. They decided that the best solutions were:

  1. To cut pollution at its sources e.g. by continuing City programs such as disconnection downspouts.
  2. To change the sewer system (improving weirs and building underground storage tanks).
  3. To dump sewage/stormwater further out into the lake (End-of-pipe controls) and build a wetland in the lake south of the Ashbridge’s Bay Treatment Plant

2007 All the ABTWTP sludge has been trucked off site, however summer 2007 saw odour problems temporarily reach outrageous proportions, with the Michigan landfill closed and the city removing only 6 of every 10 truckloads of sludge produced, leaving the rest in an aeration slough until autumn when agricultural applications for sludge resume.

2008 Court case lawsuit over an incident in which untreated sewage from the plant poured into the lake for three days.

2008: Toronto Water completes Coatsworth Cut Class EA along with Ashbridges Bay Treatment Plant EA. Waterfront Toronto completes also Lake Ontario Park Master Plan (LOP).

2008 Waterfront Toronto’s plan for the Waterfront Park recommended major changes to Ashbridge’s Bay Park & adjacent shorelines, including a waterfront trail between Ashbridges Park and the Leslie Street Spit, wetlands, recreational areas & boating.

2008 The City wanted the 2008 Olympics, despite our mayor’s comment to a member of the press to the effect that he was afraid to go to Africa to lobby the African IOC delegates because the natives might put him in a pot of boiling water & dance around him.  The group bidding for the Olympics, BIDCO, planned athletic venues on the Portlands. Shipping industry representatives didn’t like it – they thought this plan would virtually shut down the Port of Toronto. [266]  The City of Toronto wanted the Olympic Village to be converted into affordable housing. The project was expensive because it required building new streets and transit as well as remediating the soil. The Portlands are a very polluted brownfield.

2009: TRCA starts its EA on Coatsworth Cut again. They wanted to:

  • decrease sedimentation in the Cut
  • cut erosion
  • facilitate public access to area
  • move the Boat Clubs so they could build a wetland.

Toronto received approval to proceed with Phase 1 of Lake Ontario Park, which included building a new landform at Ashbridge’s Bay Park to help move the boat clubs currently located in Coatsworth Cut north to the boat basin occupied by the Ashbridge’s Bay Yacht Club.

2010: Waterfront Toronto & City suspended the EA because it cost too much to move the Coatsworth Cut boat clubs (estimated at $20 – $40 million)  That kind of funding was not available.

2011 The international Commission for Environmental Cooperation released a report naming Toronto’s Ashbridge’s Bay wastewater treatment plant the #1 surface water polluter in North America.

2012 Jan 25 Jake Lakey Article Toronto Star “So, who’s cutting the foul bombs riding the wind in the Beaches?” It processes a lot of the end product flushed down toilets, which bubbles in huge aeration tanks until it becomes a sludge that can be trucked away or transformed into pellets of scent-free fertilizer. A $23 million pellet plant was built at Ashbridges Bay about a dozen years ago, which at first produced sludge pellets that spontaneously combusted and burst into flames, due to moisture that could not be squeezed out. The pellet plant itself caught fire nearly 10 years ago, but was rebuilt. It now produces tiny balls that no longer catch fire, but the pelletizing process adds to the Ashbridges odour.

2012 Toronto City Council moved to direct Toronto Water to work with the TRCA in an EA Study at Ashbridge’s Bay. Council wanted the TRCA to lead the EA while working with Toronto Water, Parks, Forestry & Recreation Division, & Waterfront Toronto. All this depended pm the City enough funding to pay for it. The TRCA started their EA again. It was originally meant to deal the ongoing erosion & sedimention at Ashbridges Bay. They wanted to remove the navigation hazards created by sedimentation in Coatsworth Cut. At the same time the planners had to consider the various approved EAs & proposed facilities in the area & the objectives of the Lake Ontario Park Master Plan.

2013 July massive amounts of rain fell on Toronto, overwhelmed city infrastructure, and knocked out power to at least one wastewater treatment plant. The city released more than 1-billion litres of raw sewage into Lake Ontario in a single day.

2013 August A new report suggests the pollution in and treatment of Lake Ontario near Toronto is among the worst in Ontario. The report, released by the non-profit Eco-Justice, analyzed 12 Ontario municipalities’ sewage treatment and discharge. Toronto came in third last. “The primary reason that Toronto ranks so low is that they’ve got antiquated, outdated sewage infrastructure: mainly combined sewers,” Liat Podolsky, a scientist at Eco-Justice, said. July 2013 record rainstorm. Toronto has already replaced most of its combined sewers.  In the eastern and western beaches, the city built large underground tanks to capture the flow of sewage and send it for treatment. The City is spending almost to $1.5 billion to deal with combined sewers along the Don River, Massey Creek and the inner Toronto harbour.

2013 TRCA, in partnership with the City of Toronto, again re-initiated an EA to address erosion & sedimentation issues in Coatsworth Cut & Ashbridge’s Bay Park. This 2013 EA picked up where the 2009 Class EA left off & identified the design alternatives that could still be done given that the project was much smaller due to lack of funding.

2014  February 18 Treatment plant cleaning up its act

This spring, however, staff at Toronto Water hope they get fewer odour complaints because a key part of the plant’s $375-million odour control program is nearly done…. In September, Quarisa said crews began installing a new system that basically draws odorous air out of the plant’s aeration tanks. The covers on those tanks are decades old, and were allowing foul air to seep into the neighbourhood…The air-drawing system follows odour control work done more than a year ago at the plant’s two pumping stations by the Tubs and Gee Gage rugby field north of Lakeshore Boulevard, which Quarisa said were upgraded first because they are so close to homes. … One of the next steps is an $11-million pilot project to upgrade one of the plant’s 11 aeration tanks, which date back to the 1950s…The drum-shaped tanks on the west side of the plant essentially bubble oxygen through partially treated sewage and stormwater to stimulate the microbes that digest organic matter. The upgraded tank will get an airtight cover, new mixers, new controls, and a fine-bubble diffuser…Quarisa also noted that when fine-bubble diffusers do go into all the tanks, the plant will need a lot less electric power to run because they are much more energy efficient. All the odour control projects that are underway or about to be tendered at Ashbridges Bay should be done by 2017. Beach Metro Community News

2014 On July 7, 2014, Mark Mattson and Krystyn Tully of Lake Ontario Waterkeeper filed a request to the province of Ontario to bring sewage bypass alerts to Toronto. If successful, Torontonians would be alerted every time the city dumps sewage into public waters (about three times a month).

Ashbridges Bay Erosion & Sediment Control Project TRCA (with the City of Toronto) finished the Ashbridges EA. A Community Liaison Committee was formed. Public Information Centers were also held to seek feedback on the study from a broad audience. The TRCA held 2 public meetings (June 19, 2013, February 6, 2014).  An Environmental Study Report was been completed & placed on public record for a 45-day review period ending on February 1, 2015

2014 ‘ Ashbridges Bay Sewage Treatment Plant ’ Chairperson’s Report Winter 2012 By Hans Looije The BTRA Board has been in attendance at meetings of the Ashbridges Bay Treatment Plant. The Ashbridges Bay Treatment Plant Neighbourhood Liaison Committee and the public meeting was held on October 23rd. The city needs to replace the 60-year-old pumps that pump sewage into the treatment plant, as well.

2015 The City of Toronto and TRCA still hope to:

  1. develop a structure in the TRCA’s and City’s waterlots south of Coatsworth Cut & the sewage plant. They want this structure, to deal with the sediment and erosion. They also want this structure to work with a new wetland & combined sewer overflow high-rate treatment facility (already approved City of Toronto facilities as identified in completed Class EA studies);
  2. assess the impact on:
    1. water quality
    2. sedimentmention
    3. flood levels
    4. fish & wildlife habitat
    5. shoreline protection
    6. recreational opportunities
    7. marine navigation & recreational boating;
    8. broad public consultation with affected stakeholders; &
    9. consider other existing waterfront plans.

TRCA has to make sure their design(s) in this EA will:

  1. reduce sedimentation & dredging at the mouth of Coatsworth Cut & the entrance to Ashbridge’s Bay Yacht Club;
  2. not get in the way of a future link (e.g. trail) between Tommy Thompson Park & Ashbridge’s Bay Park (as per the Lake Ontario Park Master Plan);
  3. not damage the new & existing outfall & sea wall gates for the sewage plant;
  4. keep to what Toronto Waterfront Aquatic Habitat Restoration Strategy & Terrestrial Natural Heritage Strategy recommended for shoreline & habitat;
  5. consider the Tommy Thompson Park Master Plan Environmental Assessment & plans for to enhance the Leslie Street spit shoreline that abuts the Ashbridge’s Bay Treatment Plant;
  6. show that TRCA’s plans work with the City of Toronto’s already approved design for the Coatsworth Cut stormwater treatment wetland & combined sewer overflow high-rate treatment facility, as identified in completed Class EA studies.[267]

Toronto & Region Conservation Authority, in partnership with the City of Toronto, intends to carry out remedial erosion control works to resolve long-term shoreline stability & sediment issues at the mouth of Coatsworth Cut & Ashbridge’s Bay Park.[268]

The Ashbridges Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant is the city of Toronto’s main sewage treatment facility, and the second largest such plant in Canada after Montreal’s Jean-R. Marcotte facility.

  • One of four plants that service the city of Toronto, it treats the wastewater produced by some 1.4 million of the city’s residents and has a capacity of 818,000 cubic metres per day.
  • The plant has a 185 m (607 ft) high smokestack which is visible from most parts of the city.
  • Formerly called the Main Treatment Plant
  • Currently, 20 primary digesters processing raw and waste-activated sludge
  • Capacity is 818,000 cubic metres per day
  • Operates 24/7

In addition to the Ashbridges Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant, three other wastewater treatment plants are in operation today: North Toronto, Highland Creek and the Humber. These plants are owned and operated by the City of Toronto.

Four plants

  1. Ashbridges Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant
  2. North Toronto Wastewater Treatment Plant
  3. Highland Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant
  4. Humber Wastewater Treatment Plant

The air management strategy developed by the City in 2007 being implemented. Will reduce odours emitted from the plant so that they are not noticeable beyond the plant fence line. At least six construction contracts. Construction began in 2009 and is expected to be complete in 2019.

  • Improvements to ventilation and odour control systems at the M and T pumping stations (construction 2009-2011)
  • Improvements to the D building preliminary treatment and grit/screenings handling process and installation of a new biofilter with a dedicated stack (construction 2010-2013)
  • Improvements to the collection and dispersion system of the odourous air emissions from the aeration tanks

Later:  a replacement of the existing biofilter, aeration tanks upgrades, and major improvements to P building preliminary process areas including the replacement the existing chemical scrubber with a biofilter.

Smaller, stand-alone odour control systems will also be constructed for the sewage pumping stations north of Lakeshore Boulevard.

2015 March the MOE notified Lake Ontario Waterkeeper that they had extended their review of Toronto’s sewage bypass notifications to June 30, 2015.


[2] D.R. Poulton & Associates Inc. The 2003 Stage 1 Archaeological Assessment of the Proposed Portlands Energy Centre, Portlands Industrial District, City of Toronto, Ontario, pp. 3-4.

[3] Mcllwraith. Birds of Ontario, 1894, 116. Auk, XV, 1898, 274. Fleming James, Birds of Toronto, Ontario, 1906, P. 437 in Vol. XXIII AUK OCT.

[4] Mallory Bob F. & Cargo, David N.  Physical Geology.  New York:  McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1979, 197-199.

[5] Mcllwraith. Birds of Ontario, 1894, 116. Auk, XV, 1898, 274. Fleming James, Birds of Toronto, Ontario, 1906, P. 437 in Vol. XXIII AUK OCT.

[6] Goad’s Atlas, 1884

[7] Smith, 8.

[8] Goad’s Atlas, 1924

[9] Plan of the Front Line of Dublin now York.  1791.  In the collection of the Toronto Reference Library.

[10] Goad’s Atlas, 1924

[11] Plan of York Harbour Surveyed by A. Aitkin, 1793, copy in the collection of the Toronto Public Library.

[12] Filey, Mike.  Trillium & Toronto Island.  Willowdale:  Firefly Book, 1990, 7.

[13] Quoted in Fuller, W.J.  “Toronto Harbour” in The Canadian Engineer, January 19, 1909.

[14] Plan of the Harbour of Toronto with the Proposed Town & Settlement, 1788, copy in the collection of the Toronto Public Library.

[15]  J. Bouchette.  The British Dominions in North America. 1831.  Vol. I, p. 89 fn. quoted in Edwin C. Guillet, M.Avenue.  Toronto From Trading Post to Great City.  Toronto:  The Ontario Publishing Co., Limited, 1934, 60.

[16] Plan of Toronto Harbour with the Rocks, Shoals & Soundings, etc.  Surveyed & drawn by J. Bouchette, 1792, copy in the collection of the Toronto Public Library.

[17] Jesse Edgar Middleton.  The Municipality of Toronto A History.  Toronto:  The Dominion Publishing Company, 1923, 45.

[18] Ashbridge, W.T.  The Ashbridge Book.  Toronto:  The Copp Clark Company Limited, 1912, 79.

[19] Robertson, J. Ross, notes & biography.  The Diary of Mrs. John Graves Simcoe.  Toronto:  William Briggs, 1911, p. 209-210.

[20] D.R. Poulton & Associates Inc. The 2003 Stage 1 Archaeological Assessment of the Proposed Portlands Energy Centre, Portlands Industrial District, City of Toronto, Ontario, pp. 3-4.

[21] Undated manuscript Leslieville 1880, in the collection of the Toronto Public Library.

[22] Connor, James Thomas Hamilton, Doing Good: The Life of Toronto’s General Hospital. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000), p. 70;

Bonis, Robert R., A History of Scarborough (Scarborough: Scarborough Public Library, 1968), p. 115.

[24] Boulton, D’Arcy, Sketch of His Majesty’s Province of Upper Canada. London: C. Rickaby, printer, 1805, p. 46

[25] York Gazette, July 4, 1807, quoted in Edwin C. Guillet, M.A.  Toronto From Trading Post to Great City.  Toronto:  The Ontario Publishing Co., Limited, 1934, 92-93.

[26] Edwin C. Guillet, M.A.  Toronto From Trading Post to Great City.  Toronto:  The Ontario Publishing Co., Limited, 1934. p. 17-18

[27] Scadding, Henry.  Toronto of Old.  Edited by Frederick H. Armstrong.  Toronto & Oxford:  Dundurn Press, 1987, 3-4.

[28] Undated manuscript Lesliville 1880, in the collection of the Toronto Public Library.

[29] Pearson, Recollections & Records of Toronto of Old, p. 115.

[30] Stuart, Charles. Emigrants Guide, 30.

[31] E.A. Talbot.  Five Years’ Residence in the Canadas. 1824.  Vol. I, 100-2, quoted in Edwin C. Guillet, M.A.  Toronto From Trading Post to Great City.  Toronto:  The Ontario Publishing Co., Limited, 1934, 22-23.


[33] Stuart, Charles, The Emigrant’s Guide to Upper Canada; Or, Sketches of the Present State of …pp. 297-298

[34] Scadding, Henry. Toronto of Old. , Toronto:  Adam, Stevenson & Co., 1873. 220.

[35] Scadding, Henry.  Toronto of Old.  Edited by Frederick H. Armstrong.  Toronto & Oxford:  Dundurn Press, 1987, 6-7.

[36] Scadding, Henry.  Toronto of Old.  Edited by Frederick H. Armstrong.  Toronto & Oxford:  Dundurn Press, 1987, 132-133.

[37] Stuart, Charles. The Emigrants Guide, 165.

[38] Smith, Canada Past & Present, 3.

[39] Paul Kane.  Wandering of an Artist among the Indians of North America. 1859, p. 32, quoted in Edwin C. Guillet, M.A.  Toronto From Trading Post to Great City.  Toronto:  The Ontario Publishing Co., Limited, 1934, 435.

[40] Bouchette, Joseph. The British Dominions in North America, Or, A Topographical & Statistical Description of the Provinces of Lower & Upper Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, the Islands of Newfoundland, Prince Edward, & Cape Breton Including Considerations on Land-granting & Emigration…H. Colburn & R. Bentley, 1831, p. 84.

[41]  J. Bouchette.  The British Dominions in North America. 1831.  Vol. I, p. 89 fn. quoted in Edwin C. Guillet, M.Avenue.  Toronto From Trading Post to Great City.  Toronto:  The Ontario Publishing Co., Limited, 1934, 60.

[42] No. 1 Plan of the Town & Harbour of York Upper Canada & also of the Military Reserve, Bonnycastle, 1833.

[43] No. 1 Plan of the Town & Harbour of York Upper Canada & also of the Military Reserve, Bonnycastle, 1833.

[44] Jameson, Anna. Winter studies & summer rambles in Canada, Vol. 1. New York: Wiley & Putnam, 1839, 19.

[45] “Why Are Game Animals Becoming Scarce?” in The Canadian Sportsman & Naturalist, August 15, 1881, p. 121.

[46] Thompson, Samuel. Reminiscences of a Canadian Pioneer for the Last Years. Toronto: Published by Hunter, Rose & company, 1884, pp. 274-275.

[47] Strickland, 75-77.

[48] Campbell, Mary & Barbara Myrvold  The Beach in pictures, 1793-1932.  Toronto:  Toronto Public Library, 1988, 36-38.

[49] Thompson, Samuel. Reminiscences of a Canadian Pioneer for the Last Years. Toronto: Published by Hunter, Rose & company, 1884, pp. 274-275.

[50] Thompson, Samuel. Reminiscences of a Canadian Pioneer for the Last Years. Toronto: Published by Hunter, Rose & company, 1884, pp. 274-275.

[51] Strickland, 75-77.

[52] Myrvold, 3.

[53]Singleton, Mike.  “Latticework of Ecosystems Ontario’s Forests” in Theberge, John B., editor-in-chief.  Legacy:  The Natural History of Ontario.  Toronto:  McLelland & Stewart Inc., 1989, 123-125.

[54] Strickland, Samuel & Agnes Strickland. 20-seven Years in Canada West: Or, The Experience of an Early Settler. London: R. Bentley, 1853, 164.

[56] Globe Monday, August 27, 1855

[57] Fuller, “Toronto Harbour”, The Canadian Engineer, Jan. 29, 1909.

[59] Globe, January 8, 1918.

[60] The History of Gardening:  A Timeline, The Nineteenth Century 1800-1899

[61] Filey, Mike.  Trillium & Toronto IslandWillowdale:  Firefly Book, 1990, 9-10.

[62] April 14, 1858 edition of “The Leader” newspaper in Filey, Mike.  Trillium & Toronto IslandWillowdale:  Firefly Book, 1990, 11.

[63] Gibson, Sally.  More Than an Island:  A History of the Toronto Island.  Toronto Irwin Publishing, 1984, 63.

[64] Robertson, John Ross. Robertson’s Landmarks of Toronto. Vol. 3.  Belleville, ON:  Mika Publishing, 1974.  Originally published in 1898, 300.

[65] Edwin C. Guillet, M.A.  Toronto From Trading Post to Great City.  Toronto:  The Ontario Publishing Co., Limited, 1934, 80-81.

[66] Globe, January 8, 1918.

[67] Buckner, Bill. The Great Book of Waterfowl Decoys. Globe Pequot, 2000, 286.

[68] Seton, Julia M., By A Thousand Fires.  (New York: Doubleday & Company , Inc., 1967), pp. 62-63.

[69] Globe Tuesday, August 27, 1872

[70] Edwin C. Guillet, M.A.  Toronto From Trading Post to Great City.  Toronto:  The Ontario Publishing Co., Limited, 1934, 160-161.



[73] D.R. Poulton & Associates Inc. The 2003 Stage 1 Archaeological Assessment of the Proposed Portlands Energy Centre, Portlands Industrial District, City of Toronto, Ontario, pp. 3-4.

[74] Globe, February 4, 1882.

[75] Globe, January 8, 1918.

[76] Seton, 62-63.

[77] Tuesday December 27, 1881 Globe

[78] Tuesday December 27, 1881 Globe

[79] Globe Saturday, February 4, 1882

[80] Globe Wednesday, January 18, 1882

[81] Globe Saturday, February 4, 1882

[82] Globe Saturday, February 4, 1882

[83] Globe Saturday, February 4, 1882

[84] Globe Saturday, February 4, 1882

[85] Globe Saturday, February 4, 1882

[86] Globe Saturday, February 4, 1882

[87] Friday, March 17, 1882 Globe

[88] Globe Friday March 31, 1882

[89] Toronto Daily Mail July 18, 1882

[90] Toronto Daily Mail July 20, 1882

[91] Toronto Daily Mail July 29, 1882

[101] Toronto Daily Mail November 15, 1882. William J. Greenwood, born 1858, was a butcher & the oldest son of Catherine (Kate) & John Greenwood. 1881 Census

[102] Toronto Daily Mail December 5, 1882

[103] Toronto Daily Mail December 5, 1882

[104] Toronto Daily Mail December 5, 1882

[105] Toronto Daily Mail December 12, 1882

[106] Globe, March 15, 1883

[107] Globe, March 15, 1883

[108] Globe Saturday, March 24, 1883

[109] Globe Tuesday, May 8, 1883

[110] Globe, May 17, 1883.

[111] Thursday, May 17, 1883 Globe).

[112] Globe May 17, 1883

[113] Globe, Tuesday, May 22, 1883

[114] Toronto Daily Mail October 18, 1883

[115] Toronto Daily Mail October 30, 1883

[116] Toronto Daily Mail November 14, 1883

[117] Toronto Daily Mail November 14, 1883

[118] Toronto Daily Mail November 19, 1883

[119] Toronto Daily Mail, November 19, 1883.

[120] Toronto Daily Mail December 14, 1883

[121]Adam, G. History of Toronto & County of York was published in 1885 by C. Blackett Robinson vol. II, p. 191.

[122] History Of Toronto & County Of York Ontario; Containing An Outline Of The History Of The Dominion Of Canada; A History Of The City Of Toronto & The County Of York, With The Townships, Towns, Villages, Churches, Schools; General & Local Statistics; Biographical Sketches, Etc., Etc.  Volume II.  Toronto: C. Blackett Robinson, Publisher, 1885, 184.

[123] The History of Gardening:  A Timeline, The Nineteenth Century 1800-1899

[124] Saturday, January 1, 1887 Globe

[125] Saturday, January 1, 1887 Globe

[127] Wednesday, March 28, 1888 Globe

[128] Globe, May 3, 1888

[129] Globe, Saturday, September 8, 1888.

[130] Toronto Daily Mail, July 17, 1889

[131] Toronto Daily Mail, July 17, 1889

[132] The Irish Canadian, September 19, 1889.

[133] George Fairfield, 1991. Smith, F. 1998. Hunting Days. In Ashbridge’s Bay (G. Fairfield, ed.). Toronto Ornithological Club, Toronto.

[134] The Huron Expositor, Dec. 5, 1890


[136] Globe Saturday September 12, 1891

[137] The Canadian Statesman, Sept. 28, 1892

[138] Edwin C. Guillet, M.A.  Toronto From Trading Post to Great City.  Toronto:  The Ontario Publishing Co., Limited, 1934, 164.

[139] D.R. Poulton & Associates Inc. The 2003 Stage 1 Archaeological Assessment of the Proposed Portlands Energy Centre, Portlands Industrial District, City of Toronto, Ontario, pp. 3-4.

[140] Globe Friday, June 23, 1893

[141] Globe, August 1, 1893.

[142] Toronto Star January 18, 1894

[143] Toronto Star January 23, 1894

[144] Toronto Star Wednesday, February 14, 1894

[145] Toronto Star Tuesday, February 20, 1894

[146] Toronto Star Wednesday, March 7, 1894

[147] Toronto Star Monday, March 12, 1894

[148] Toronto Star Monday, March 12, 1894

[149] Toronto Star April 2, 1894

[150] Toronto Star Friday, April 13, 1894

[151] Toronto Star Friday, April 13, 1894

[152] Toronto Star Friday, April 13, 1894

[153] Toronto Star Tuesday, May 1, 1894

[154] Toronto Star Tuesday, May 1, 1894

[155] Toronto Star, August 3, 1894.

[156] Friday, August 3, 1894 Toronto Star

[157] Toronto Star, Friday, August 3, 1894

[158] Toronto Star, Friday, August 3, 1894

[159] Toronto Star, Sep. 7, 1894

[160] Toronto Star Wednesday, September 26, 1894

[161] Thursday, October 18, 1894 Toronto Star

[162] Toronto Star Thursday, October 18, 1894

[163] Toronto Star, October 18, 1894.

[164] Toronto Star Tuesday, October 23, 1894

[165] Toronto Star Monday, November 5, 1894

[166] Toronto Star Friday, December 7, 1894

[167] Toronto Star, Friday, January 18, 1895

[168] Monday, January 21, 1895 Toronto Star Mayor’s speech

[169] Toronto Star, February 7, 1895.

[171] Toronto Star, October 14, 1895

[172] Daily Mail & Empire, November 19, 1895.

[173] Bill Gladstone, “Paradise Regained” in Seasons, Spring, 1994, 30-34.

[174] Globe, Saturday, February 13, 1897

[175] Daily Mail & Empire, June 9, 1897.

[176] Wednesday, September 1, 1897 Toronto Star

[177] Daily Mail & Empire, September 30, 1897

[178] Mcllwraith. Birds of Ontario, 1894, 116. Auk, XV, 1898, 274. Fleming James, Birds of Toronto, Ontario, 1906, P. 437 in Vol. XXIII AUK OCT.

[180] Tuesday, October 18, 1898  Toronto Star

[181] Daily Mail & Empire, December 14, 1898

[182] Wednesday, April 3, 1901 Toronto Star

[183] Saturday, July 13, 1901 Toronto Star

[184] Monday, March 2, 1903 Toronto Star

[185] Toronto Daily Mail, March 23, 1903.

[186] Toronto Star, July 19, 1906

[187] Toronto Star Jan. 15, 1907

[188] Monday, January 20, 1908 Toronto Star

[189] Thursday, April 2, 1908 Toronto Star

[190] Toronto Star, Saturday, October 17, 1908

[191] Toronto Star, December 5, 1908

[192] Toronto Star, Monday, December 14, 1908

[193] Toronto Star, Monday, December 21, 1908

[194] Wednesday, January 20, 1909 Toronto Star

[195] Toronto Star, Saturday, February 27, 1909

[196] Toronto Star, Thursday March 4, 1909

[197] Globe Friday, September 3, 1909

[198] Toronto Star, December 7, 1909

[199] Goads Atlas Toronto, 1910.

[200] Pearson, Recollections & Records of Toronto of Old, p. 115.

[201] Canada. To the delegates of the Ninth Congress Chambers of Commerce of the British Empire, Toronto, September 18-22, 1920 – Metropolitan Toronto Board of Trade

[202] Toronto Star Oct. 12, 1911

[203] Thursday, October 19, 1911 Toronto Star

[204] Monday, October 23, 1911 Globe

[205] Toronto Star Friday, December 15, 1911


[207] Toronto Star Oct. 19, 1912

[208] Toronto Star Nov. 11, 1912

[209] Toronto Star, Tuesday, February 18, 1913

[210] The Toronto World, July 11, 1913


[212] The Toronto World, July 11, 1913

[213] Metropolitan Board of Trade, To the delegates of the Ninth Congress Chambers of Commerce of the British Empire, Toronto, September 18-22, 1920. (Toronto: Metropolitan Board of Trade), p. 260.

[214] Poulton, 3-4.

[215] Pearson, W.H. Recollections & Records of Toronto of Old. Toronto, William Briggs, 1914, 114.

[216] Globe Feb 16 1914

[217] Toronto Star, Feb 17, 1914

[218] Toronto World February 15, 1915

[219] New York Times March 13, 1915

[220] Globe, Wednesday, June 2, 1915

[221] Globe, August 7, 1915

[222] Toronto Star Nov 2 1917


[225] Tuesday, January 8, 1918 Globe

[226] Monday, May 19, 1919 Globe

[227] Canada. To the delegates of the Ninth Congress Chambers of Commerce of the British Empire, Toronto, September 18-22, 1920 – Metropolitan Toronto Board of Trade

[228] Sauriol, Charles.  Pioneers of the Don. p. 25.

[229] Canada. To the delegates of the Ninth Congress Chambers of Commerce of the British Empire, Toronto, September 18-22, 1920 – Metropolitan Toronto Board of Trade

[230] Globe, April 20, 1923

[231] Globe Tuesday, June 3, 1924

[232] Globe Friday, August 7, 1925.

[233] Toronto Star, April 15, 1925

[234] Smith, Cameron, “Waterfront greatly changed in past 56 years; new proposal will continue improvements” in The Globe & Mail, Jan. 10, 1968.

[235] Wednesday, April 20, 1927 Toronto Star

[236] Toronto Star, June 19, 1930

[237] Cadman, M.D., Eagles, P.F.J., & F.M. Helleiner, editors.  Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario. Federation of Ontario Naturalists, Long Point Bird Observatory.  Waterloo:  University of Waterloo Press, 1987, 72.

[238] Edwin C. Guillet, M.A.  Toronto From Trading Post to Great City.  Toronto:  The Ontario Publishing Co., Limited, 1934, 165-168.

[239] Aleta Karstead, A Guidebook:  The Waterfront Trail, Explore yesterday, today & tomorrow along the shores of Lake Ontario.  Toronto:  Waterfront Regeneration Trust, 1995, 131-132.

[240] Mary Campbell & Barbara Myrvold  The Beach in pictures, 1793-1932.  Toronto:  Toronto Public Library, 1988, 38, Filey, Mike.  Discover & Explore Toronto’s Waterfront.  Toronto:  Dundurn Press, 1998, 117-118.

[241] Toronto Daily Star, October 25, 1945


[243] Brian Magner, “Half a waterfront gone to waste”, Globe & Mail, August 15, 1958.

[244] Magner, Brian. “Half a waterfront gone to waste” in The Globe & Mail, August 15, 1958.

[245] “New Small Boat Harbor Urged” in Globe & Mail, Jan. 16, 1964.

[246] Fairfield, George, 1991. Smith, F. 1998. Hunting Days. In Ashbridge’s Bay (G. Fairfield, ed.). Toronto Ornithological Club, Toronto.

[247] Aquatic Habitat Toronto.

[248] Fisheries & Oceans Canada, Toronto Harbour & Approaches map.  New edition, June 22, 1990.  Reprinted April 8, 1994.

[249] MacGray, Ken.  “Industrial park jobs for 10,000 urged for harbor.” in Toronto Star, September 16, 1975.

[250]Diemer, Ulli. “The Canada Metals story: A chronology” Seven News, February 28, 1980

[251]Diemer, Ulli. “The Canada Metals story: A chronology” Seven News, February 28, 1980

[252]Diemer, Ulli. “The Canada Metals story: A chronology” Seven News, February 28, 1980

[253]Diemer, Ulli. “The Canada Metals story: A chronology” Seven News, February 28, 1980

[254]Diemer, Ulli. “The Canada Metals story: A chronology” Seven News, February 28, 1980

[255]Diemer, Ulli. “The Canada Metals story: A chronology” Seven News, February 28, 1980

[256]Diemer, Ulli. “The Canada Metals story: A chronology” Seven News, February 28, 1980

[257]Diemer, Ulli. “The Canada Metals story: A chronology” Seven News, February 28, 1980

[258] C.J McPherson, “Sewage treatment plant a pollution problem?” Ward 8 News, Vol. 2, No. 2., 1979.

[259]Ulli Diemer, “The Canada Metals story: A chronology” Seven News, February 28, 1980



[262] URL:     

[263] Ontario Heritage Foundation Annual Report, 1998-1999, p. 10.


[265] Apr. 24 2002 Globe

[266] Korchak, Kathryn, “Ships at the crossroads” in The Toronto Star, January 17, 2000, C1 & C2.


[268] See

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