Monthly Archives: November 2022

The Lynde House

Sunday, November 27, 2022

The Lynde House is recognized as Whitby’s oldest building and was built around 1812. Jabez and Clarissa Lynde were some of the earliest Europeans in the area. Jabez operated a hotel and tavern on their lot between 1811 and 1819. The Lynde Family opened their home to militia during the War of 1812 so that soldiers could get supplies on their way to the battlegrounds in Niagara. General Isaac Brock was a noted guest of the house during this time. The archive picture below shows the house in its original location on Dundas Street West in Whitby at the northwest corner of McQuay Boulevard. This picture was taken around 1938 and includes the gas station that used to be beside the house. The building is a rare surviving example of the Georgian Architectural style.

The house remained in the family until 1893 when it was owned by Elmina Lynde. She was the youngest daughter of Jabez, and she bequeathed it to All Saints Anglican Church in Whitby. The church sold the property and the house changed hands several times over the next 40 years. A holding company owned by Loblaws bought the house and property in 1939. The elaborate front entrance way is enhanced by the second story window above.

They subdivided the house and created three apartments inside. They removed the grand central staircase and replaced it with a different to access the upstairs apartment. They also covered the original wood siding with stucco.

In 1968 a fire broke out in the rear apartment in the area that was formerly the kitchen. The Whitby Historical Society had been formed in 1967 and they took an interest in saving the home because of its historical and architectural significance. Loblaws agreed to donate the house to the historical society in 1972 on the condition that it be moved within one year. They were unable to come up with the funds to move the house and instead operated it as a museum until 1986. This came to an end when a fire broke out on the second floor and damaged much of the roof. Loblaws then sold the property to a developer.

The Town of Whitby donated the house to Cullen Gardens and Miniature Village, and it was moved there in August 1986. The image below is from the Whitby historical Society and shows the house on its way to Cullen Gardens. I find it interesting that there appears to be two people sitting on the roof while it is in transit. It looks kind of dangerous and I wonder what they hoped to do to assist with the move. Perhaps it was to ensure that overhead wires were lifted out of the way so that they wouldn’t get caught as the building passed underneath.

Quadrangle Architects oversaw the restoration of the house to its 1856 status. This included removing the stucco, repairing the clapboard siding and installing a replica staircase to the second floor. The home was furnished with period appropriate furniture that was bought at auction. Lynde house once again opened as a museum in 1988 as part of Cullen Gardens. When Cullen Gardens closed in 2005 the house was sold back to the Town of Whitby. Town council approved moving the house to the corner of Brock Street and Burns Street where it is now operated as a museum by the Whitby Historical Society.

The archive picture below shows the Lynde House as it appeared in 1905. The family is remembered in the name given to Lynde Creek as well as Lynde Shores Conservation Area. Lyndebrook Golf Course also pays homage to the family name.

At this time the museum is open for tours by appointment only and I just happened to be in the area on work business and hadn’t made arrangements to go inside. Perhaps another time.

Google Maps Link: Lynde House

Like us at

Follow us at

Also, look for us on Instagram

Edgeley – Ghost Towns of the GTA

Sunday, November 20, 2022

The community of Edgely was centered around the modern intersection of Jane Street and Highway 7. The first Europeans to settle in the area arrived around 1800 from Somerset, Pennsylvania. The northeast corner of the intersection had a hotel while the southeast corner had the general store which also had the post office from 1872 to 1960. A steam driven shingle mill was located on the northwest corner. A cider mill was located just south of the general store which produced cider, apple jelly and apple butter until it closed around 1900. Along with a community hall, there was also a blacksmith, dressmaker, a shoe maker, a wagon shop, a casket maker and two slaughterhouses.

In 1823 an acre of land was deeded to the Mennonite congregation in the Edgeley area for use as a cemetery and Meeting House. Jacob Smith Sr. (originally Schmitt) granted the land which currently is the most tangible evidence of the former community. After the Meeting House was moved to Black Creek Pioneer Village in 1976 the cemetery wasn’t maintained and by 1985 many of the earliest stones were in disrepair. The city of Vaughan gathered them together into a cairn to protect them from further deterioration.

The Meeting House was built in 1824 and clad with horizontal board siding. It was used for 99 years before being closed in 1923. It was operational again for a brief period between 1963 and 1976 after which it was moved to Black Creek Pioneer Village. It is the oldest surviving log Meeting House in Ontario and was built out of first growth white pine that was cut in the area of Edgely. Services were only held in the church every fourth Sunday because the pastor was shared with other Meeting Houses in the area.

The benches and wood stove inside the meetinghouse are original to the building. As per Mennonite custom, none of the wood was painted. The work was done by hand and even the nails that were used were forged by the local blacksmith. The total cost of the building, not including the stove was $221.

The drive shed was built around 1860 and used to store carriages while the Mennonites were attending services at the meeting house.

An archive photo from about 1900 shows the Meeting House, also known as Schmitt Meeting House, along with the original drive shed. This shed was replaced in 1916.

Edgley had two buildings that were used by the local farmers to butcher their livestock. It is a timber frame structure that is clad with board and batten siding. When it was built in 1860 there was no easy way to store large quantities of meat and so the local farmers would work together. One animal would be butchered, and the meat shared. When it came time to prepare another animal it would be provided by a different farmer. Once refrigeration became available this practice was no longer needed and in 1970 the building was moved to Black Creek Pioneer Village and opened as a rabbit hutch.

Most homes and farms had at least one apple tree and some had a full orchard. The fruit was harvested in the fall and stored for the winter to provide food for the family. Edgely had at least one of these storage cellars and it has been preserved by moving it to Black Creek Pioneer Village. The cellar was dismantled and moved to the village over a 65-day period. Two sets of wooden doors were used to help insulate the interior so that the fruit would be better preserved.

Inside, the storage cellar is just eight feet long and seven feet wide. The fruit or root vegetables were placed in the wooden bins and covered with layers of straw for better insulation and to increase the storage life. The small vent at the back of the building could be opened or closed in order to regulate the temperature inside.

A single house remains from the community, and it is located just south of the cemetery on Jane Street. This style of architecture is known as Edwardian and was built sometime between 1901 and 1910. It is also sometimes referred to as “four-square” because of the four windows on the front of the house.

The former community of Edgely has been almost completely erased from the landscape and is being replaced by high-rise condos. Fortunately, the cemetery is still there to mark the hamlet and a few buildings are being preserved at Black Creek Pioneer Village.

Related Stories: Ghost Towns of York Region, Black Creek Pioneer Village, Elizabeth Stong, Pioneer Cemetery Cairns

Google Maps Link: Edgeley

Like us at

Follow us at

Also, look for us on Instagram

Toronto’s Model T Factory

Sunday, November 13, 2022

The Model T was the first mass produced automobile, and it changed the way people lived and travelled. A steam powered vehicle had been created as early as 1672 but the first gas powered vehicle wasn’t tested until 1870 when a small motor was placed on a cart. Carl Benz created the first gas powered automobile in 1885 and produced several copies. Henry Ford started the Ford Motor Company in 1903 and assembled a few cars per day with a team of two or three men building a complete car. He soon perfected the concept of the assembly line where each man did a few small tasks as the line carried the automobile past their workstation. He sold a few hundred copies per year of several models during the first couple of years. In 1908 he invented the Model T which would go on to sell 15 million copies over the next twenty years. It was the first automobile to be mass produced on an assembly line and the best selling car of all time until it was surpassed in 1972 by the Volkswagon Beetle.

Soon his factory wasn’t able to get the manpower needed to keep up with demands and so sales to the international markets began to be assembled in other countries. Canada got four of the new Ford assembly plants. One each in Montreal, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Toronto. The assembly plant in Toronto was built at the corner of Dupont Street and Christie Street.

The five-story building was purpose-built with heavily re-enforced floors to support the weight of the automobiles that were being assembled inside. The ground floor was the showroom while the second one was for shipping and receiving. The third and fourth floor were used for assembly while the fifth one had the paint shop on it. At this time, Ford cars were only available in black. The roof had a small track that was used for testing the cars.

Loading docks were located on the second floor facing the CPR railway tracks. Parts were brought in by train and finished automobiles were then shipped back out on railway cars to be sent to various markets around the country and the British Empire. This facility also built the right-hand drive cars for India, Australia and New Zealand, among other British colonies. The close up in the image below shows the heavy concrete transfer pads (just below the graffiti) that formed the floor and were designed to carry the weight of the incoming and outgoing shipments.

Parts for the Model T were shipped to the facility as kits from contracted suppliers who were required to package the components in very specific sizes of crates. This was because the crating material was designed to be used in the construction of the floors of the automobiles. In 1924 the building was sold, and production was moved to a new facility on Danforth Avenue. This was done because the introduction of a new Model A Ford required more room for manufacturing. Several food companies occupied the building until 1948 when it was bought by Planters for packaging peanuts. Planters Peanuts stayed until 1987.

The archive photo below shows the assembly workers putting together a row of Model T automobiles.

The first-floor showroom was designed to dazzle prospective buyers and entice them to purchase one of the automobiles. The car sold for $360 in 1927 when the factory closed, which is equivalent to $5,616 in today’s currency.

A Model T can be seen in the window on the second story of the building.

Faema Caffe now occupies much of the lower floor of the building and has a Model T on display as well as a sign board showing a brief history of the car and building. This one was a convertible while the one upstairs is a hard top.

The front view of the car shows its simplicity compared to the modern cars that can be seen outside in the parking lot. However, it also lacked a lot of the features and comforts of the modern automobiles, as well as the hefty price tag.

Toronto once had several automobile manufacturing plants but this at least has not been demolished. Not yet anyway.

Google Maps Link: Model T Factory

Like us at

Follow us at

Also, look for us on Instagram

Jokers Hill

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Jokers Hill is a large, forested tract located just west of Newmarket and south of Highway 9. It covers 889 acres of the Oak Ridges Moraine and has multiple hiking trails. I decided to check it out and took advantage of the free parking just off Bathurst Street. In the 1950’s this property was bought by General Churchill Mann and his wife Billie. She was the daughter of the founder of General Motors, Canada and was looking for a country retreat to house his many horses.

Churchill personally designed an equestrian course for his horses that covered a 12-mile cross country course with 50 miles of groomed trails. The property features a wide variety of habitats including wetlands, regenerating farmland and virgin forests. The picture below shows one of the sandy hills in the area near Bathurst Street.

Billie Mann named the property after her prize horse, Joker, who used to run to the top of the highest point, nearly 1,100 feet above sea level. They would eventually build their home at this spot to overlook the surrounding countryside. The Manns used to host the North York Hunting Club and allowed Olympic contestants to practice there. The 1956 Olympic medalists Elder and John Rumble attributed their bronze medal to the use of Jokers Hill.

In 1964 the Manns sold the property to Brian and Nancy Benitz who held it for about ten years. The elevation of the trail changes multiple times as you make your way through the forest. When you reach the lowest point on the trail there is a couple of small wetlands to cross. This little boardwalk has become less than ideal but if you navigate carefully, you can get through without getting mud on your pant cuffs. Better luck next time, lol.

In 1974 Murray and Marvelle Koffler, founders of Shoppers Drug Mart, bought the property. There weren’t very many fungus species to be seen this late in the season but some of the polypores could still be found on the trees. These Tinder Polypores are useful as tinder to start a campfire quickly if needed. They also have been used traditionally by indigenous people to cauterize wounds that won’t stop bleeding.

Jokers Hill hosted celebrities over the years including Prince Phillip and Princess Margaret as well as Pierre and Margaret Trudeau. In 1995 the Kofflers decided to gift the property to the University of Toronto. It is now used as the Koffler Scientific Reserve and research is conducted there in a variety of fields including climate change, ecology, migration, genetics and environmental science. As you follow the white trail you will come to a mysterious collapsed building in an open area of the woods. Upon investigation it reveals itself to be a former sugar shack where the sap of maple trees was made into maple syrup.

The area around the former sugar shack has a number of PVC collection pipes and tubes still attached to trees or lying on the ground. If you look carefully, you can also find the small round holes that are the scars left on maple trees from them being tapped over the years.

There was a distinct lack of wildlife on this day even though it is a prime spot for white-tailed deer, pileated woodpeckers and a host of other birds. The majority of people I met along the trail had dogs with them, many of them off leash. This will usually scare the wildlife away. Jokers Hill is a primary wildlife study area with up to 35 study projects going on at the same time. This suggests that there is plenty to be seen and those that visit often can likely attest to this. I saw a Hairy Woodpecker, two Blue Jays, a couple of Cabbage Butterflies and this beetle who was a lone late-season insect.

I came across a few Halloween pumpkins that had been thrown in the woods. There are many posts online encouraging people to do this to feed the wildlife. However, wildlife experts discourage this practice because it can be harmful and can encourage rats. Halloween pumpkins often have foreign objects in them such as candle wax which can cause serious health issues or death if eaten by an unsuspecting animal. They also bring groups of wildlife together which can lead to the spread of disease. Instead, people are encouraged to compost their pumpkins or take them to a drop off location.

Following the blue trail will bring you to Thornton Bales Conservation Area. If you’ve ever been to Niagara Falls and seen the impressive drop of the falls, you can hike a greater change in elevation here. The locals call this the “99 steps.”. I counted 100, but such is my ability to exaggerate.

The trail map shows the variety of loops and other trails that are available to hikers and dog walkers. I followed the red trail to the blue and white one that leads to the red oak loop and 19th sideroad and then returned the same way.

There’s lots to see on the Jokers Hill trails and I suspect that a wide variety of wildlife can be observed at various times. The variation of forest types likely presented a wonderful example of the fall colours a couple of weeks ago.

Google Maps Link: Jokers Hill Trail Parking

Like us at

Follow us at

Also, look for us on Instagram