Sunday, March 8th, 2015.
It was the first bright sunny day of plus temperatures at an enjoyable 2 degrees. With the clear blue sky, sunshine and melting snow you could start to believe that spring might actually come after all. I parked on Pineway Blvd where Old Cummer used to cross.
Jacob Cummer (Kummer) was born in 1767 and married 16 year old Elizabeth Fisher in 1791. They came to Upper Canada in 1797 and made their way north from York. Jacob built a log house at Yonge and Eglinton where his wife and 3 children spent the first winter. The following year they took possession of 300 acres about 6 miles further north. The Cummers were the first settlers in what would be known as Kummer’s Settlement and later as Willowdale.
Jacob established himself on lot 22 (the second lot north of Finch). His lot ran from Yonge Street east to half way between the first line (Bayview) and the second line (Leslie). In 1819 he built a saw mill on the East Don River that five generations of Cummers would operate. Jacob had a store on Yonge Street where he ran the first post office in the area. He donated land for the Methodist church and is buried in it’s graveyard. To allow people to access his mill he built a road along the north edge of lot 22 from Yonge Street to Leslie Street which we call Cummer Road today. A grist mill was built to the north on lot 23 and a woolen mill was added as well. A large industrial site grew up along the river because of his road. From where I parked the old road runs a short way east to the Old Cummer GO train station which further commemorates the founder of the neighbourhood. The road no longer crosses the train tracks but continues east of here to Leslie Street as Old Cummer Road, home to a subdivision.
As you descend the ravine toward the East Don River you come into view of the old Cummer Road bridge. The view below is taken from a similar vantage point to the cover photo. The road curves to the right of the hydro tower which stands about where the barn used to be.
The old bridge was a single arch and decorated with a series of “X’s” along each side.
Behind the old homestead the road climbs a small hill which has been cut away to reduce the steepness of the incline. This was not likely done in the early days when the mill served the local community. More likely, it was part of a road improvement that came with the advent of automobile traffic.
In 1941 Ontario Hydro bought the property to construct a series of hydro towers. The old farm house was occupied until 1958 and all the buildings were removed in the mid-1960’s. Two other buildings on Old Cummer road, just north of the homestead, stood until the 1980’s. In the 1950’s the portion of the old Cummer property south of the road and east of Bayview was still farmer’s fields. By the 1960’s it was being sub-divided for a subdivision and the old one lane bridge was no longer adequate for the increased traffic. The road was realigned to cross a new, 4 lane bridge that was completed in 1968. After crossing the new bridge the road takes a turn north and leads out to Leslie. Cummer’s mill road became Old Cummer Road and traffic was diverted off of it. When the last of the buildings on the road were removed, access was closed by putting a row of large boulders across the entrance. The view in the picture below is looking from Cummer Road where it used to turn south and head to the mills.
Returning to the old bridge I crossed and made my way up the east side of the river. Between the old bridge and the new one there are deer tracks and coyote tracks everywhere. I didn’t see any wildlife though, likely because the wet snow made it impossible to walk quietly. The sun was bright and where it was shining on the river it really made me think of spring.
Jacob Cummer was a self trained doctor and veterinarian as well as a retailer and industrialist. He built what was known as a given road which now bears his name as does the Go station on his former property. Of all the works that the Cummer family built only one house remains. The house at 44 Beardmore Drive would have been overlooking the river and the grist mill. It has been altered over the years but stands out among the 1960’s cookie-cutter homes in the area.
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Very interesting. My grandmother was a cummer and my grandfather was huston..
They had a farm in Alberta.. I have a book called Jacobs Flock which was given me by my aunt.. Which was written by one of my great aunts.
Was your grandmother / great grandmother Asenath?
I grew up in carman, Manitoba and there were Hustons there.
My great grandfather (George Washington) grew up in Willowdale, prior to settling in the Carman area
Is there a description for the first photo in this article/
Yes, it is contained in the text relative to the present day picture of the same location today.
My family lived on Marconi Court up near Finch and Don Mills from the mid 1960’s to the early 2000’s. One thing I remember is that we used to drive down this road often until it was closed. I recall that there were also some houses on the road at the Bayview Avenue end of the road that eventually disappeared.
I had always thought that something happened to one of the bridges to end the traffic flow down there but your explanation makes much more sense.
I live in New Brunswick now and don’t get to Ontario very much but I will try to make a point to head over and visit the old roadway and bridges. Thanks very much for the walk down memory lane.
Old Cummer Road appears on my computer but not on my phone. Thanks to your article, I decide to take the Pine Way . I finished walking the trails north of Cummer and south of Finch. Today I am going to walk the part between Cummer and Finch.
Do you know the current street boundaries of what was the original 300 acres owned by Jacob Cummer?