The Stone Cottage at Bond Lake

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Bond Lake has an extensive history and in earlier blogs we touched on some of the electric railway uses of the area. Returning, we set out to discover what else remained to be seen at Bond Lake.

The original land grant had been given to William Bond who briefly settled in there in 1793 constructing homes and building 8 miles of Yonge Street in the area. By 1795 he had already sold the land but had left his name on the lake. The county atlas below shows the area in 1877 when it consisted of several small farms including that of the Thompson family. Moses Gamble and his heirs would own all of this land by the middle of the 20th century and today it has been over-run with single family homes. The story of Bond Lake and the years in between can be found in our feature Bond Lake.

The Thompsons ran their farm until 1908 when the General Manager of the Merchant’s Life insurance Company of Toronto, a man named John H. C. Durham, bought the place. He turned it into his country estate and in 1912 had the old farm house remodeled to suit himself. Then in 1915, he had a cobblestone cottage built to house the farm manager and his family.

The cottage is square with a stone chimney on both the east and west walls. The roof is hipped with the four sides meeting in the middle. Rounded river stones face the building with larger ones used to form rough quoins on the corners. Above the windows are wedge shaped stones that form a rough arch. These are known by their French name of “voussoirs”.

The south wall has had a frame addition at some point over the years. Records show that the original stone building had double hung, 6 over 6 windows while the addition was 3 over 2. This building is on the heritage list and has had an earlier attempt to preserve it by adding a tarp over the holes in the roof. That appears to have been done quite some time ago. The home itself and the land around it was sold in 1940 to the Gamble family who were increasing their hold on the area around Bond Lake.

One of the many little buildings that once surrounded the lake, this one has seen its best days. Outside it has a lazy kind of lean to it but inside it has been semi-demolished.

Inside this building has been trashed which is a pure shame. I understand that people like to get together with friends and have a drink and smoke something and they may not be able to do it at home. Buildings like this provide some shelter from the weather and perhaps some discretion as well. However, I don’t understand why people can’t stop by for a party and enjoy themselves without having to ruin the place. It seems to be self-defeating behaviour as far as I can tell.

We found the remnants of several old cars, or at least the chassis of them. This one was a green truck and had more of the body still remaining. Most likely this was some kind of 1970’s G.M. pick up truck.

Sets of cut stone blocks form the mounting pads for the old steam generators for the Toronto & York Radial Railway. These also contain the old fire places where the coal was burned to create the heat for the generators. In this shot the maintenance shed can be seen in the background. It is still in quite good shape considering the number of years since it was last used to service electric railway cars and equipment.

The substation at the Electric Railway Generating Plant is in worse condition every time we visit the area. Having suffered a fire, and with major holes in the back roof, it seems that this historic building may soon be history.

Bond Lake was still, and with the light fluffy clouds reflected off the surface of the water, it was quite calming to relax for a minute and just observe.

Tamarack is also known as Larch and is a coniferous deciduous tree. This means that it bears cones like an evergreen but loses its leaves like a Maple or Oak tree. On the south east side of Bond Lake several extensive patches of Tamarack have been planted and since they turn colour later than the broad leaved trees, they provide a late season splash of yellow to the woods.

This canoe was one of two small craft that we found in the edge of the woods. The area has been home to many forms of recreation over the years including reportedly being used as a home for motorcycle gangs. I wonder if there’s a classic bike hiding around here somewhere?

I suspect that only a few of the local dog walkers have the true picture of everything that awaits the thorough explorer at Bond Lake.

Associated blogs: Bond Lake, Electric Railway Generating Plant, and the Toronto and York Radial Railway

Google Maps Link: Bond Lake

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6 thoughts on “The Stone Cottage at Bond Lake

  1. Aryelle Kuretzky

    I always drive by this little lake and always thought it was part of Lake Wilcox. So much for knowing a lot of my local history. So sad to see a couple of these buildings in such terrible shape.

  2. Lindapark007 Oark

    That was great!I live exploring and history!The Tamarack trees are really unique!Myst go for a hike up there!


    i use to live in Oak Ridges and i use to visit friends of mine who lived in the stone cottage beside the highway-and we use to hunt behind Bond Lake–that was over 50 years ago—-

  4. Brian Weller

    My Thompson Family ancestors recieved a 195 acre land grant on Yonge Street, south of Bond Lake in 1830. It was all forest and they had a saw, an adze to square up and knotch timber and two oxen to pull roots. They had to clear 10 acres and build their home in the first year or they wouldn’t receive the deed. A hard life! Brian Weller, Toronto son of Anne Thompson

  5. Paula

    I have no money but my monthly ch. and would love to take this and do it at my own time it is just me but I have brothers that do con. and I can get help to being this beautiful home back if I can get it I would take my time and bring it back I know I can do this a little at a time an it can get done why let it go when someone well do it????? that would be a dream for someone to give. make it a sol. panel home eco-friend.

  6. Ralph Martin

    Backin the 50s–we had a cottage at lake Wilcox–there was arumour that Bond Lake had no bottom—so do not go swimming–there was also a rumour that it had the biggest pike as no one went fishing there—-well guess what 2-3 of us snuck in the back way from Wilcox–it was a long long hike–but what we saw and what we caught will never be shared.


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