Liberty Village Heritage is much older than the Distillery District

Are we overlooking our oldest and most valuable Heritage in Liberty Village? Heritage Tourism, large or small, is coming to West Liberty Village.

This material was presented to the Liberty Village BIA 2017-04-20. It was standing room only. Three representatives of the Developer were in attendance and ARA Architects spoke.  A lively discussion followed. Liberty Village BIA clearly values heritage.

Just an observation: We employ architects to evaluate Heritage. This approach appears to skip over First Nations and anything covered by stucco.

2015-10-08 ERA Architects 25 Liberty

Heritage Toronto Report in 5 parts:
Introduction  2016-01-19 Toronto 1-of-5.pdf
Map 2016-01-19-Toronto-2-of-5.pdf
Picture 2016-01-19-Toronto-3-of-5.pdf
Description (good read) 2016-01-19-Toronto-4-of-5.pdf
Full Report (best read) 2016-01-19-Toronto-5-of-5.pdf

Old Time Trains aerial photos of Liberty Village.
Petition by local residents to save the block has 663 signatures

Your feedback is appreciated. Please comment below.

Posted in Architecture, Buildings, Liberty Village, Parkdale | 1 Comment

Our Shared Paths

We share paths that are thousands of years old, used by the Wendat (Huron), Haudenosaunee [pronunciation] (Iroquois), Ojibway (Mississauga), French and British. Marked on the following map in grey are the trails and gathering places of these earlier people. Dotted lines are guesstimates. Blue lines are streams and shorelines. The Mississaugas made clearings in Parkdale, Liberty Village and Exhibition Place for their seasonal villages and trade fairs. The Dundas trail from top left ran past General Givens’ house near today’s Ossington, then along Garrison Creek to the lake shore path.

The following slides show how I compared the accurate 1818 Philpotts map to the current map. Slide Show, with controls.

The following 1814 sketch of Fort York shows the lake shore trail used as a road.

This 1817 map by Lieut E A Smith shows that Dundas Street included Ossington and Queen Streets and was once York’s western highway.

Dundas became the main Western Colonial Highway. In 1850 this stage coach approaches Brockton road west bound on the Highway to Dundas.

The following 1813 Williams sketch shows clearings and trails into Parkdale. The left side of the map west of Fort York is not very accurate. The clearing on the left would have been somewhere south of Dunn Ave. The next clearing to the right contains the remains of Fort Rouille.

Below I have overlaid the previous 1813 map over an 1851 map. The shoreline in the 1851 map is accurate but unchanged, in Parkdale, from 1813. You can see that west of Fort York things do not line up. This led me to estimate the locations of the clearings and paths west of Fort Rouille.

Who Lived Here and walked these Paths? When  Bouchette mapped the harbour in 1792 he found a blacksmith , the remains of fort Rouille and a native hut. Slide Show follows.

The Wendat (Huron) lived here when Etienne Brule passed through in 1615 on the ‘Toronto’ trail, now called Carrying Place Trail. Toronto is an Iroquoian word for trees in the water, referring to a fishing weir at the north end of Lake Simcoe. Wendat and Haudenosaunee all spoke Iroquoian. They lived in cities of two to five thousand, farmed communally and had representative and participatory democracies. We made this successful model illegal shortly after Confederation.

 Notice that Lake Simcoe is labeled ‘Toronto’. Click the small map to verify. 

By 1650 the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) had wiped out the Wendat using Dutch and British guns. This brought more of the lucrative fur trade to the British, who were then in New York. The Seneca, a Haudenosaunee nation, lived at Baby point about 1650 to 1670 when they were drawn away by more wars.

About 1690 the Mississaugas pushed south from the north shore of Lake Superior. They settled around present Toronto and Mississauga. Each spring they gathered for maple sugaring, then came to the river mouths for larger summer gatherings. In the fall they harvested some crops and dispersed for winter hunting in family territories. They took pride in leaving mother earth clean wherever they had been, ‘leaving only the holes of our tent pegs in the ground.’ They were and are a peaceful people.

In 1701 the Great Peace of Montreal was signed by 40 First Nations and New France. The Mississaugas and Haudenosaunee were among the signatories. The treaty appears to have embodied the spirit of the Two Row Wampum Belt. It resulted on a period of greater peace for the Mississaugas, who extended a friendly welcome to the British when they began arriving. Slide Show.

European Wars in the land of the First Nations caused great suffering.

The Seven Years War, 1756-1763, drew in all of Europe and the North American colonies. Britain won New France from the French and in claiming the Indian Territory touched off a war with Pontiac around Detroit that the British won. Did that make it theirs? Slide Show.

1763-1787 the American Revolution
Depleted financially by the seven years war, Britain taxed the 13 Colonies, triggering the successful American Revolution that in turn forced large numbers of refugees, United Empire Loyalists, into present Ontario. These Loyalists included British, Haudenosaunee and other First Nations. The Mississauga, accustomed to the Great Peace of Montreal, kindly accepted British allied refugees in large numbers, with disastrous consequences.

The new American government, under Washington, allowed colonials to settle illegally on Native land then attacked the First Nations when they forcibly evicted them. In this fashion the Americans were able to demonize the natives and take their land piecemeal.

1789-1792 the French Revolution

The French Monarchy incurred a huge debt supporting the American Revolution. Their attempts to make the other estates pay for this was a major flash point in triggering the French Revolution.

1797 Historicist: The Murder of Wabakinine

“In war and peace, Wabakinine, head chief of the Mississaugas who made their home on the north shore of Lake Ontario, was a strong friend and ally of the British in the late 18th century. … He was murdered in York in 1796 at the hands of British soldiers one of whome was trying to assault the chief’s sister. The murder of such a widely respected leader shocked the First Nations of the colony, touching off a local crisis as the underlying tension between the Mississaugas and the settlers reached a boiling point.” Worse, the charges were not perused to any serious degree and the rapist and murderer went free. Trust was replaced with intimidation.

1803-1815 The Napoleonic Wars
After the French Revolution there was no clear agreement on how to govern. Napoleon was able to seize power and use invasions for profit. As Napoleon invaded more and more countries Britain was drawn into the wars. Britain first won at sea then gradually defeated Napoleon. As a result successful British military veterans, like Colonel O’Hara, settled in Parkdale. Slide Show.

The War of 1812
The Americans, although ostensibly neutral in the Napoleonic wars, were actually helping the French. This led to war with Britain and was disastrous for the First nations who mostly allied themselves with Britain. Tecumseth created a wide federation to ally with Britain including the Haudenosaunee Six Nations and Mississaugas. Notices how shocked the other officers are to see Brock shake the hand of Tecumseth.

Britain did not arm, feed or defend its First Nations allies. After fighting to a stalemate, Britain and America kept their original boarders and divided the First Nations land between themselves. During the American invasion of York, General Givens and the First Nations took up the most dangerous position directly opposing the American Landing on the present Sunnyside Beach. Many seriously wounded First Nations were taken back to Givens house to be stitched up by his wife. As the British retreated to Kingston and the Americans headed for Givens house intent on killing all First Nations prisoners. The First Nations had to carry their wounded into the night along Dundas. Given’s house: The Americans later cordially returned some library books to the British, that they had taken while occupying the town.

After the war of 1812
After 1812 the British embraced the American policy of ignoring all First Nations governments, rights and status as citizens or humans while prosecuting them criminally if they defended themselves in any way. Once this policy was established things became much worse. This situation has not yet been fixed.

Time for Change.

The Two Row Wampum Belt
Mississaguas of the New Credit First Nation, Our History
Parkdale in Pictures:
How to pronounce Haudenosaunee
Givens and First Nations 1812
Historicist: The Murder of Wabakinine
Great Peace of Montreal
French Revolution
Napoleonic Wars
Queen Annes War
Beaver Wars

Posted in Parkdale | 5 Comments

Birthday’s For Canada, Parkdale Toronto and First Nations.

We are celebrating Toronto’s birthday today, remembering other important dates and the Parkdale BIA has a present for you.

1. Canada turns 150 this year. More on this soon.

2. Parkdale turned 138 this year and the Parkdale BIA has prepared this delightful video of historical pictures and music as gift to the community. Enjoy. Music will play.

9. How the First nations see it. Not a happy birthday. Posted here from  Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation.   Music Will play.

9. MNCFN-LogoColourSmall


Toronto Purchase

Your feedback is appreciated. Please comment below.

Posted in Parkdale | 3 Comments

Roncesvalles Heritage Attributes Mapping

Eric Charron, Staff Architect at Spencer R Higgins, Architect Inc. is making his first contribution to this website here. Views are those of the author.

As part of a City of Toronto Planning initiative, a massing study was begun in November 2015 for Roncesvalles Ave and Dundas Street West between Boustead Avenue and Sorauren Avenue. The study includes a review of built form and physical character analysis and how to accommodate growth.

A community walking tour of the study area was held in October 2016. The following city planning maps were developed as a result of this walk, along with consideration being given to the west side of Roncesvalles Avenue, which is excluded from the scope of the city planning study area.

The maps utilize a colour coding that pertains to the legend on page 1 of 8.

  • Areas identified in yellow indicate existing open areas in the “urban room of the street”, both public and private, that either presently serve an event or places to gather or could potentially be enhanced to do so in the future.

  • Buildings identified in solid red are heritage buildings designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act. Buildings in red hatching are listed on the City of Toronto heritage register.

  • Buildings outlined in green are identified as displaying heritage character contributing elements that add to the collective memory and history of both Roncesvalles and Dundas Street West. A building with green hatching denotes having significant heritage character elements to warrant consideration of listing to the city’s heritage roster and future protection from demolition through designation.

Heritage Character Attributes of the Study Area

Roncesvalles and Dundas Street West have a particular history that has resulted in specific architectural typologies and characteristics. Not unlike other main streets in Toronto being considered for protections (through heritage districts), the sections of Roncesvalles and Dundas West being examined in this exercise identify specific structures that exemplify the following character contributing elements as a way of guiding contextual growth and development in the neighbourhood.

  • Continuous storefront cornice lines above the ground floor

  • Recessed storefronts

  • Transom windows (leaded or stained glass) near the top of ground floor shop windows

  • 20′-30′ wide shopfront widths to maintain a visual rhythm

  • One-to-Three storey articulated cornices detailed with dentils or corbelled brick or woodwork at roof lines

  • Buildings over 4 floors have a set-back from the street wall

  • 45 degree corner entrance doors at street intersections

  • Canvas awnings over shopfronts

  • Bay windows above ground floors

  • Articulated brickwork facades, brick pilasters and rose windows

  • Street art and painted wall murals

  • Bay and gable typology and dormer windows on detached and semi-detached residences

  • Front porches on detached and semi-detached residences

Rather than regulating all future development to strictly adhere to these elements as they exist in the neighbourhood, due consideration should be given to their contribution to the overall form and character of the urban room of the street that are represented through these qualities. New buildings, renovations and upgrades should be distinguishable from, compatible with, as well as subordinate to the heritage character of the study area.

Your feedback is appreciated. Please comment below.

Posted in Parkdale | 2 Comments

Built, Cultural and Streetscape Heritage At Risk, 35 Liberty Street

There is a grand Victorian head office, hidden under stucco, on Liberty St between Atlantic and Jefferson. It needs people who understand that the stucco can be removed. There is architectural beauty, cultural heritage and a live-work artists’ incubator under there! These things will attract value and joy to the neighborhood if preserved.
(Views are those of the author.)

You can express your support here by signing the petition.

Your feedback is appreciated. Please comment below.


a The Toronto City Planner’s careful Heritage Study.

b 25 Liberty St Overview

c Building Timeline Reference

d Blueprints and Docs

e The Developer’s Heritage report and Architectural drawings at: The Developers Heritage Report is almost blank.

Derek Flak adds his support in a well written article. Thank you Derek.

Town of Your Historical Society – Windmill

14 Gwynne Ave home of J J Wright, Street Lights, Electric Street cars and Public or Private Utilities, updated.

Canadian Electricity Association – history

Toronto’s Ex Place – wind turbine

Posted in Parkdale | 4 Comments

Parkdale at 138. How Democracy Grew

As we commemorate Parkdale’s 138th birthday I include First Nations contributions to our joint history.
1. Our first participatory democracy: everyone has a vote on every decision.
2. Achieving responsible government: elected representatives make decisions for us.
3. Parkdale had democracy without universal suffrage: only male land owners voted.

(Views are those of the author.)

Your feedback is appreciated. Please comment below.

Parkdale in Pictures. Download PDF

Posted in Buildings, Parkdale | 3 Comments

421 Roncesvalles Ave Needs Heritage Designation

Development is at the northern gates of Roncesvalles Village. We are concerned.
Sunnyside Historical Society presentation to the Toronto Preservation Board Jan 26, 2017.

Result: The Board passed the motion. Next Councillor Gord Perks will take it to Toronto City Council where Heritage Designation is expected to pass.

Your feedback is appreciated. Please comment below.


A Progressive Traditionalist: John M. Lyle Architect

 What Roncesvalles Ave Used To Look Like

Dominion Bank at 421 Roncesvalles Ave

Gore Perks: Heritage Designation for 421 Roncesvalles Avenue

The Toronto Preservation Board will be considering the heritage designation of 421 Roncesvalles Avenue at its next Board meeting.

The meeting will be held on Thursday, January 26th at 9:30 a.m., Committee Room #2, Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen Street West.

421 Roncesvalles Avenue, at the south-east corner of Roncesvalles and Howard Park, was originally constructed as a branch of the Dominion Bank by Toronto’s great architect and urban designer John Lyle in 1914.

Architectural Plans. Follow this link then again follow ‘Architectural Plans’.

PDF of this article on 421 Roncesvalles Ave Designation


Posted in Architecture, Buildings, Parkdale, Roncesvales | Tagged | 5 Comments