The Lost Villages of Norway & Ben Lamond
ueen Street seems to attract most of the action in the Beaches, but if you
want to get a real feeling for the area,
See article St. Johns Norway one of east end's gems...
Walking east towards Victoria Park Avenue youll find unique shops and galleries, as well as neighbourhood pubs and coffee shops and a variety of businesses catering mostly to local residents. This is a well-established residential neighbourhood, but it is one that is changing and growing with the recent addition of condos and townhomes.
First Part Of The Beaches To Be Settled
This stretch of Kingston Road was actually the first part of the Beaches to be settled. In the early 1800s Kingston Road was just a narrow trail hacked out of the forest, connecting the settlement of York (now Toronto) with Kingston. The road was built so that troops could be brought in if necessary to defend York from the Americans, and also so that farmers could take their produce to market.
A weekly stage coach line began winter service in 1817, taking from two to four days to travel between York and ingston. In the early 1830s, coaches carrying passengers and mail began making the trip every day. At harvest time long lines of wagons filled with bags of grain slowly made their way to market along the Kingston Road.
In winter, there was an almost continuous stream of traffic, with coaches carrying passengers and the mails, and sleighs taking produce and lumber into the rising young city. As travel increased, inns and taverns sprang up and villages were established along the Kingston Road. One of these villages was the tiny settlement of Norway, which grew up around a toll gate near the intersection of Kingston Road and what is now Woodbine Avenue.
NORWAY Provided Hospitality To Travellers
Weary travellers could find rest and refreshment for themselves and their horses at the Norway House, run by Thomas Smith and later by his son James, on the southeast corner of Kingston Road near Woodbine. There was also James Shaws hotel and tavern, described as a long low building painted dazzling white with green shutters, further east on the Kingston Road.
In 1851, a young ex-soldier by the name of Joseph Williams, and his wife and infant son, stopped off in Norway before heading south through the bush in search of suitable land. Williams bought 20 acres fronting the lake, part of which later became Kew Gardens park near Queen Street and Lee Avenue in the heart of the Beaches. The quaint stone cottage built by Josephs son Kew in 1902 is one of the most recognizable and beloved landmarks in the Beaches.
By 1850, Norways population had increased to almost 100. A 1851 map of the Township of York shows clusters of buildings, including three taverns, a school and a sawmill.
For more about the Sawmill - see article...
The Gazetteer of British North America listed Norway in 1837 as a post-village in York County, 4 miles from Toronto. It contains one store, one hotel and a brewery. Pop. 80. Sometime after this, the village acquired those trades essential to every pioneer settlement -- a harnessmaker, blacksmith and wagonmaker.
As Kingston Road ran up the hill to the north east it came to a level at Mount Sullivan, named after Daniel OSullivan. Gentleman Dan, as he was known, was described as a genial story teller and an entertaining kindly hearted man who owned considerable property in the area and ran a popular inn and tavern called OSullivans, on Kingston Road near Lee Avenue.
From OSullivans, travelers could get a good view of the city in the distance, which must have been a welcome sight after several days on the road.
Norway prospered through the mid century. It was listed in the 1857/58 Canada Directory as a small village with a daily mail service and a population of about 100. A new post office at 320 Kingston Road was opened in 1866.
Development Slower To The South
A map of the area in 1868 shows most settlement was along Kingston Road with concentrations at Smalls Corner (now Kingston Road and Queen) and at Norway. Closer to the lake, development proceeded more slowly. East of Woodbine was thickly wooded, with only a few buildings. Some commercial fishermen were living in cottages on Woodbine Beach.
The area remained isolated until the 1870s, when it began to take shape as a summer resort for city folk. In 1880, Queen Street was opened west from Woodbine Race Track to the Scarborough township boundary at Nursewood Road. A streetcar line followed and by the end of the 1890s, the Beaches was developing into a year-round settlement with a public school and other amenities.
How Did NORWAY Get Its Name?
No-one knows for sure how Norway got its name. Certainly not from the settlers, who were largely of British and American origin. Most likely, the community was named after the stands of Norway pine (also known as red pine) which soared to a height of 40 metres (120 feet) in the sandy soil and were a specialty of the Norway Steam Sawmill.
The Village of BEN LAMOND
of Norway, a small community known as Ben Lamond grew up at the corner of
Kingston Road and Benlamond Avenue (now Main Street). The village took its
name from two prominent landowners, James Lamond-Smith and Benjamin Morton.
A 1880 map shows the two families living beside each other on Benlamond Avenue,
with a private park to the south. Benjamin Morton was still living there in
Urban Growth Spells The End For Villages
Urban growth spelled the end for little communities dotted along the Kingston
Road. Norway, Ben Lamond, Leslieville and a dozen other hamlets were
By Christine Staddon
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