Half Way To Toronto's Markets
Stop 14 at Midland and Kingston was known as the Half Way House stop. Built in 1849, the Half Way House served travellers and farmers bringing their goods to St. Lawrence Market in Toronto. It stood at the "half way" point to the market from the large farming village of Dunbarton, near Frenchman's Bay in Pickering.
In the era of overland travel on foot or by horsepower, the task of moving goods from Pickering to Toronto was a slow commitment, particularly with full wagons. A "Half Way House" was necessary to break the trip, even more so if it offered refreshments. An evening's relaxation in the company of fellows, sharing a keg of Mr. O'Keefe's brew or dipping into a barrel of Mr. Gooderham's whiskey, made the trip a business excursion, rather than a simple chore.
In 1865, around the inn there grew up a small village named Mortlake, a name that soon vanished from the maps. The Mortlake post office was located inside Half Way House for a brief period until it closed due to the proximity of the Danforth Post Office at Birchmount and Danforth Road and the Scarborough Junction Post Office. By the end of the 1800s Scarborough Junction became the largest town in Scarborough. It was located at the junction of the Grand Trunk Railway and the Toronto & Nipissing Railway, near Danforth Road and St. Clair.
Booming BusinessThe late 1800s were a golden era for the Half Way House. It was one of the most successful of a number of inns on Kingston and Danforth roads serving the farmers who provisioned a growing Toronto. Other hotels included Gates Hotel at Bellamy and Kingston, Heber's Hotel at Danforth and Coxwell, and Duggan's Hotel at Kingston and Queen. Then when car travel became common and a number of motels sprang up to serve travellers, Half Way House was converted to storefront uses, while upstairs rooms served a variety of community needs.
Dining at the original Half Way House TodayIn 1965 the Half Way House inn was moved to the Black Creek Pioneer Village. Today it contains a working, traditional brewery and restaurant that opens to the public. You can sit down and have a meal or a cup of tea at the Half Way House that dominated the corner of Midland and Kingston for more than 100 years.
Today, at Stop 14 where the Half Way House once stood, a large wall mural illustrates a scene that might have taken place at the inn on a bright summer day in the horse-and-buggy era.
Refreshment RoomAnother landmark at Stop 14 is the Scarborough Bluffs Refreshment Room. It still stands at the southeast corner of Midland and Kingston, a one and-a-half story building with wraparound porch awaiting renovation. The Refreshment Room was built in 1903 by Albert Stinson to serve Half Way House guests and locals hopping off the Kingston Road Radial for a day of amusement at the Scarborough Bluffs Park nearby.