May 18th, 2022
The Rebirth of River City

100 Years – Celebrating the People, Places and Community

There is much to celebrate about living in the Beaches. But this year is particularly special, we celebrate, explore and look back on the last 100 years of a Toronto community. We will honour the residents, businesses, schools and community organizations, while presenting many historic buildings and landmarks in the area that were established in 1914 or earlier. We will celebrate people whom you might know, and perhaps even relate to.

We celebrate 100 years of Beaches living and commemorate 100 years since the beginning of World War I. 1914 was a momentous year for communities across Canada and around the world. We chose to celebrate 100 years in the Beaches this year as it coincided with the beginning of a war that changed our community. We explore the effect of the Great War on the local area and its residents. It is the people and buildings featured in this edition that helped this area become a thriving community.

Standing Still for Over a Century
Offiially Designated Heritage Conservation Districts
Heritage Houses that have been Homes for Over a Century
Community Services
Commercial Buildings

Standing Still for Over a Century

Thre are dozens of historic Beaches buildings constructed in 1914 or earlier. Many of you will know these historic buildings as they stand, but they were often known by diffrent names or used for very diffrent purposes earlier in their time. Perhaps you even live or work in a grand old building

In 1850, a community was established to the east of the fldgling city of Toronto. Norway, a tiny village at the intersection of Kingston Road and Woodbine Avenue, was one of the fist settlements in the area. Th eventual commercial centre was at the busy intersection of Main and Gerrard. East Toronto was incorporated as a village in 1888 and at that time had a population of about 800. Rapid growth ensued and it was elevated to town status in 1903. Th town of East Toronto was annexed by the City of Toronto in 1908 when it had a population of about 5,000.

Many houses from that time still stand today. A signifiant number of those are single-story bungalows that were built during the Beaches’ transition from a periodic to a permanent community. Th streets were often named after prominent families or landowners of the time. For example, the early community of Ben Lamond at the corner of Kingston Road and Benlamond Avenue (now Main Street) was named in the late 19th century after landowners James Lamond-Smith and Benjamin Morton.

Offiially Designated Heritage Conservation Districts

The Lyall Avenue Heritage Conservation

District was enacted by City Council in July 2006.Residences on Lyall Avenue between Main Street and Malvern Street are part of that District. Th street features a mix of high Victorian, Edwardian Classical and Toronto bungalow designs. Whereas the Grand Trunk Railway developed neighboring streets in East Toronto, individual landowners developed most of the lots on Lyall Street

Lyall Avenue is an area with many attractive homes built from the 1880s to 1914. Plans to build on Lyall Avenue were formulated in 1884 in response to the housing needs impelled by the development of the Grand Trunk Railway yards between Lakeview Avenue and Danforth Road. At least fie houses on Lyall Avenue have survived from the 19th century:numbers 22, 38, 50, 62 and 74.

The Kingswood South Heritage Conservation

District covers an area of properties fronting Kingswood Road, running from Queen Street East in the south to Bracken Avenue in the north. Th homes built in this area date back to 1909 but most were built between 1910 and 1920. Thse Kingswood Road homes exhibit an eclectic mix of architecturalstyles including classic Edwardian, Toronto bungalow, English cottage and colonial revival

Although not a heritage conservation district, there are 33 heritage buildings – many of them residential – on the section of Queen Street East that is considered part of Th Beaches

Heritage Houses that have been Homes for Over a Century

Today, many historic homes at least 100 years old stand in the area. A number of them are designated heritage properties of the City of Toronto. Here are some of the area’s historic homes.

1444 Queen Street East

Ashbridge Estate, built 1854

Ths main house at the Estate is the earliest known site of habitation in the east Toronto area. A member of the family continued living there until 1997. Ashbridge Estate was the home of the Ashbridge family for over 200 years.

62 Laing Street

The Maple Cottage, built 1873

Ths is a historic house and worker’s cottage. It is claimed that a maple tree on the property inspired Alexander Muir (1830-1906) to write ‘Th Maple Leaf Forever’. Maple Leaf Forever Park is at the rear of the property

57 Benlamond Avenue

Reverend William Darling House, built 1876

Th Reverend William Darling was rector of Toronto’s Church of the Holy Trinity. Th house was probably built by the architect Frank Darling (1850-1923), William Darling’s son. Th gardener’s cottage for the estate is at 35 Benlamond Avenue.

16-18 Kimberley Avenue

William Brown House,built 1889

Ths house was acquired in 1896 by Brown, a Grand Trunk Railway employee. Brown’s family owned the house for over a century. Th property’s coach house was also built in 1889

93 Balsam Avenue

William J. Gardiner House, built 1899

William J. Gardiner was a Toronto jeweller. It was the residence of Toronto artist Nancy Caudie Wright from 1940 to 1997

45 Glen Stewart Crescent

Reverend William S. Darling House, completed 1890

Th construction of the house is also attributed to Frank Darling.Alfred Ames bought this house from Darling after his death in 1866. It was also known as Alfred E. Ames Residence

1903 Queen Street East at Woodbine Avenue

Henry Hogarth Residence, built 1893

Th three-story red brick dwelling was the home of Henry Hogarth, a plumber. Th fist owner lived there until at least 1926.

2190 Gerrard Street East

northwest corner of Gerrard Street and Road, Donald Stephenson House, built 1894

Donald G. Stephenson (possibly born in 1837 and married in 1866) was a lumber merchant, realtor,loans offir and the Reeve of the Township of Scarborough in 1865 and from 1877 to 1880.

292 Main Street

Farmhouse, built late 19th century

Th brick building is enlivened with iron ornamental work and is often these days hidden by foliage. Currently Main Street Clinic

79-81 Waverley Road

Inglenook, built 1899-1900

Beaches architect C.F. Wagner (1862-1934) designed the house and was the original owner. Wagner worked for the Ontario government. Local historian Mary Denoon (1908-2001) grew up here.

2204-2206 Queen Street East

at Balsam Avenue built 1902

Today it used for commercial use

30 Lee Avenue

Kew Williams House, built 1902

Th Lee Street dwelling was built by Kew Williams, youngest son of Joseph Williams, owner of Kew Gardens. Also known as the Kew Gardener’s Cottage.

97 Lee Avenue

Beach Telephone Exchange, built 1903

It was originally the Beach Telephone Exchange and became St. Michael’s College in the 1930s. Currently an apartment building.

1975 Queen Street East at Waverley Road

John Wright House, built 1903

A store was added around 1925. John Wright (1847-1922) was an electrical engineer and genial electrical pioneer. He was also the fist president of the Canadian Electrical Association in 1891 to 1893. Educated at Shireland Hall in Birmingham, John J. Wright arrived in Toronto in 1870 as a millwright

94 Pine Crescent

Pinecrest, built 1904

Alternate address: 132 Balsam Avenue. C.F. Wagner designed the house. A Toronto gentleman named Mr. Valleau was one of the early owners

2200-2202 Queen Street East

at Balsam Avenue,

built 1905

2353-2355 Queen Street East

Mrs. Ames house, built 1905

Mrs. Ames was perhaps wife of investment dealer Alfred E.Ames (1866-1934). Ames was the youngest ever President of the Toronto Stock Exchange and owned summer homes in the area (see notes for Reverend William S. Darling House).

2357-2359 Queen Street East

(near Spruce Hill Road) Hiram J. Dingman House, built 1905

Th home of Hiram Jasper Dingman (1874-1947). Dingman appears to have written a book called "Th Unemployed: A World Problem" published in 1914

47 Benlamond Avenue

Alexander McLeod House, built 1909

Local builder Alexander McLeod built and originally owned the house.

4 Norwood Avenue

The Gatehouse for Mrs. L Davies, built 1911

Th house’s design is attributed to well-known Toronto architects Henry Sproatt (1866-1934) and Ernest Ross Rolph (1871-1958). Th property’s fence is also heritage listed.

1A Hambly Avenue

built 1912

Alternate street numbers: 2072, 2074, 2076 and 2078 Queen Street East. Built by Frederick McBrien. Th red brick structure is currently an apartment building.

Community Services

Balmy Beach Club

360 Lake Front, Foot of Beech Avenue, opened 1905

Lawyer, politician and judge Sir Adam Wilson (1814-1891) deeded land at Beech Avenue to residents of the area. Th Balmy Beach Club on that land was incorporated in 1903. Th non-profi organization for amateur athletes opened its doors in 1905. Fire destroyed the Club House in 1936 and again in 1963. Th present Club House was reopened in 1965.

Toronto Hunt Club

1355 Kingston Rd, founded 1843

Th Hunt Club moved to its current location in 1895.Membership was (and still is) prestigious, and Toronto’s business elite, including distillers George Gooderham and James Worts,comprised the early membership roles. Th Hunt commissioned the prominent architectural fim of Darling and Pearson to build the fist clubhouse, completed in 1895. Unfortunately, the grand clubhouse could not escape the misfortune of fie. On November 6, 1910 the building burned to the ground

87 Main Street

Toronto Fire Services, Station 226, built 1910

It was originally known as Toronto Fire Department Station 22. Th original fie hall next door was demolished in 1911.

97 Main Street

Toronto Police Services, 55 Division,now Community Centre 55, built 1911

Ths building is on the site of the East Toronto Town Hall built in 1888. East Toronto was annexed by the City of Toronto in 1909. In 1911, the Town Hall was replaced by Police Station Number 10 of the Toronto Police, which was later renamed Station Number 55. In 1973, the police moved to a larger building. It became Community Centre 55 in 1977. Th ‘55’ was kept to pay respect to the building’s history

1904 Queen Street East

Toronto Fire Services, Station 227, built 1905

Thre are two historic fie stations built before 1914 in the Beaches area. Still operates as a fie station, it was originally known as Toronto Fire Department Station 17 but was also called Kew Beach Fire Hall.

East Toronto Library

137 Main Street, opened 1903

A public library was opened in East Toronto in 1903 in a room above Fire Hall Number 3 on Dawes Road north of Danforth Avenue. Members paid an annual fee to use the library. It closed in 1912. On December 15, 1914 the branch opened in a rented space in the Y.M.C.A. at Gerrard Street East and Main Street.It then relocated to its current location in 1921.

Toronto Public Library

2161 Queen Street East (near Lee Avenue), opened 1914

TPL’s fourteenth branch was originally located in a storefront on Queen Street East, near the north-east corner of Hambly Avenue. It opened in early 1914. Th library eventually moved to its current home and opened on 13 December, 1916. Th oneton cast bronze owl at the front of the building was installed in July 2005 and its historical plaque in 2006.


The Beach Hebrew Institute

109 Kenilworth Avenue at Queen, built 1895

Th former Kenilworth Avenue Baptist Church was purchased by Jewish residents in 1920 and transformed into a synagogue. Th building was used as a warehouse and a community centre after the Baptist Church moved to a diffrent location circa 1908 (see below). After the purchase, the building was moved a short distance south on Kenilworth and re-oriented to face east. In the mid-1920s, the building was renovated.

Waverley Road Baptist Church

129 Waverley Road, built 1909-1910

Phillip Whitlock started Sunday School classes at his grocery store at Queen and Kenilworth in 1891. From this beginning came Kenilworth Avenue Baptist Church, which was built across from the grocery store. Th Baptist congregation bought land at Waverley Road in 1908. Many congregation members served in WWI.

The Beach United Church

140 Wineva Avenue, built 1914

Ths church began in 1882 as a Methodist Mission. Th church moved to its current location in 1905 and the current structure was built in 1914. It was formerly known as Kew Beach United Church. In 2007, the Kew Beach United Church and Bellefair United Church amalgamated their congregations and became Beach United Church

The former Bellefair United Church

Queen Street East at Bellefair Avenue, completed 1923

Th church’s construction begun in 1914 but WWI interrupted its progress. It was sold in early 2011 and converted to residential and commercial space. New home to Shoppers Drug Mart.

St. Aidan’s Anglican Church

corner of Queen Street East and Silver Birch Avenue,built 1910

Originally established as a mission of St. John’s, Norway in 1891. Th church’s Memorial Hall, a tribute to those who had served in WWI, was dedicated in 1923. Some of the Church’s stained-glass windows are over 100 years old and serve as memorial to deceased parishioners.

Commercial Buildings

1961 Queen Street East, southeast corner of Kenilworth

Whitlock’s Restaurant, built 1891

It was originally Whitlock’s Grocery Store and became a cheese factory in 1925. Th building was renovated and opened as Whitlock’s Restaurant in 1991. It is believed to be the only wooden corner building still standing in Toronto.

2232 Queen Street East, at Beech Avenue

Ross Drugstore, built 1902

Originally Ross Drugstore, in the 1950s the building became a pub called Th Chalet. Tht pub was the fist in the Beaches area to obtain a liquor license. For many years, it was known as Quigley's and now it is the Outrigger restaurant

2169 Queen Street East at Lee Avenue

The Dominion Bank Building, built 1911

Designed and perhaps built by eminent Canadian architect John Lyle (1872-1945). Ths two-storey heritage property is now a Coles store, part of the Indigo Books and Music chain.

2236 Queen Street East, at Beech Avenue

Fox Theatre, built 1913-1914

It was for many years known as Th Prince Edward, and it is the oldest continuously operated movie theatre in North America.It was named Th Prince Edward in 1914 as a response to Britain’s declaration of war on Germany. It has been called the Fox since 1937.

Family Market

Paul Simone, centre,behind son, Lawrence,stands by Mike Nasello,left, in 1926 at the Main and Gerrard Streets store

Family grocery store on Gerrard Street in 1926, published in Toronto Star, January 10, 1993 -Our Yesterdays Series.Toronto Public Library Beaches Branch

2205 Queen Street East, near Leuty Avenue

Charles E. Scadding Confectionery building, built 1906

Built by William Johnston and designed by Edwin R.Babington (1838-1914)

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