Tag Archives: Guildwood Park

Log Cabins

April 18, 2021

When a pioneer arrived to start to farm on their new land grant they were faced with a few government requirements. In order to take possession (or hold patent on the land) they had to clear and fence five acres, build a dwelling of at least 16 feet by 20 feet and also open the road allowance that passed along the edge of their property. They had twelve months to complete all this in what was usually 200 acres of solid virgin forest. Fortunately, the means to build the home were gained through the clearing of the land. Therefore most of the first homes were log cabins. Families lived in these homes until they were able to build larger brick homes, sometimes many years and several children later.

The oldest building in Toronto is one of these original log cabins. It was built in 1794 by John Scadding who owned the land grant on the east side of the Don River between Danforth Road and Lake Ontario. He lived here until 1796 when he returned to England and eventually selling it in 1818. Until 1879 it served as a farm outbuilding and then it was offered the the York Pioneer and Historical Society. They moved the cabin to the site of the first Toronto Industrial Exhibition, now the C.N.E. Scadding Cabin is also featured in the cover photo of this story.

Over the years we’ve presented many other log homes in our stories. Below you’ll find pictures of 16 of them along with a brief description. More details about the homes and their locations can be found in the links presented with each house. The question is, which one is closest to you and when will you check it out?

Augustus Jones originally surveyed Yonge Street and then in 1795 he was commissioned to survey Scarborough township. Augustus Jones House is said to be the oldest house in Scarborough and the second oldest in Toronto dating from 1795.

George and Mary Lyon were married in England in 1868 and sailed for Canada that same summer.  They bought 50 acres of land on Trafalgar Road near the Oakville Townhall.  This cabin dates to about 1810 and was already standing on the property when they took possession. The George Lyon home was used to raise a family of 9 children.

Daniel and Elizabeth Stong took possession of their lot in 1816 and built a log cabin where they lived for 16 years and raised 7 children. The Stong Log Cabin stands in its original location where it forms the heart of Black Creek Pioneer Village.

John and Esther Leslie built this log home in 1824 and it was moved to its present location in 1994 to make way for development of the Leslie Farm in Mississauga. The Streetsville Historical Society are the current owners of the Leslie Log Home.

This log cabin was built in 1830 and occupied by a lifelong bachelor named William Porteus McCowan. His family were among the earliest settlers in Scarborough and the McCowan Log Cabin is now part of the collection at Thomson Memorial Park.

In 1835 George Ludlow and his wife Francis moved to Trafalgar and built this log cabin which stands at the end of Burnhamthorpe Road in Glenorchy. The Ludlow Log Home is certainly in the poorest condition of any in this collection.

The Bradley Museum Log House was built in 1850 near Mono Mills. It was moved to the mouth of The Credit River in 1967 where it again faced demolition. It has been a working building at Bradley House Museum since 2007.

The Erindale Log Home was built in 1855 and moved to its present location on Jarvis Street in the 1970’s where it continues to serve as a private residence.

There’s also a half-dozen log homes that we’ve visited that are not dated and many of them are no longer in their original locations.

The Halton Region Museum has an interesting log home because it has a front gable with a small window. This would have made this home much better lit inside than the average log cabin.

The Rotary Club of Don Mills moved this pioneer home to Sunnybrook Park and dedicated it on July 16, 1975 to the people of Toronto. The dedication plaque quotes John Milton from Paradise Lost “Accuse Not Nature, She Hath Done Her Part, Do Thou But Thine.”

The log cabin at Marylake has had some additions to each end as well as a small entry porch.

The Puterbaugh Log House has been moved from its original location in Maple and now is preserved in the Pickering Museum Village. It originally had a second floor as evidenced in the row of log ends that runs just above the door. These would have supported the floor for the upper level.

The Frank Robson Log House is noted for the large timbers used in construction. It was restored in 1929 when it was still a cabin in the woods outside of the town of Maple.

A house similar to the original Ball Log Cabin home is now being used to display the typical lifestyle of a settler and a spinning wheel can be seen through the window. This one is a little outside the GTA at Ball’s Falls.

Many log cabins were hidden behind a veneer of bricks, wood siding, shingles and later even insulbrick in an attempt to make them look more modern and help to insulate them against the winter. One feature of these homes which helps to identify them is the window structure. There will never be a window that passes between a main floor and an end gable. This is because the upper logs are required to be intact for building stability. The Philip Echkardt Log house in Unionville has been covered in siding. It is said to have been built around 1800 and is the oldest home in the Markham Heritage Inventory. In the 5 years since the picture below was taken, the siding and two roof dormers have been removed and the house restored.

There’s also a new group of log cabins that have nothing to do with pioneers or land clearing. They stem from a sense of nostalgia, perhaps mistakenly thinking they represent a simpler time . In 1936 Robert Clifford and Edith Gamble built a cottage on Bond Lake which is one of these.

Log cabins let us quickly imagine the lives of the pioneers and the harsh conditions they had to endure. In a society where developers are king and historical designations are almost meaningless we’re fortunate to still have several of these relics scattered throughout the GTA and surrounding areas.

Google Maps link: Scadding Cabin

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Hiking The GTA – A 2015 Monthly Review

January 1, 2016

Hiking the GTA was able to visit 86 different places in 2015 where we were able to see some truly amazing things.  Each season has it’s own beauty and there are always things to be discovered. Over the course of the year more people became aware of the stories we were publishing and readership increased dramatically.  Therefore a David Letterman “Top Ten” list would really only focus on the more recent stories.  For that reason we present a review of the year 2015 by looking at the most popular post from each month.  A brief outline of the story, a picture from it and a link are provided below.  Thanks to everyone who read one of our stories this past year.  I hope some of you were able to get out and enjoy some of these sites yourself because they are all interesting in their own way.  Plus, you never know what wild life you’ll encounter.

Graydon Hall was released on January 10th.  It visits a former millionaire’s estate finding plenty of evidence of it’s past usage.  The abandoned pump houses featured below are part of the former irrigation system.

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The Arsenal Lands was released on Feb. 7th.  The abandoned water tower and rifle inspection building along with the former rifle range made this an interesting hike.  One of the baffles from the rifle range is featured below.

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Military Burying Grounds was published on March 22 and re-posted for Remembrance Day. This hike visits the two nearly forgotten places where our early military dead are buried in downtown Toronto.

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Originally published on April 19th and recently given a Throwback Thursday release Guildwood Park where the inn is currently being restored.  The post looks at the Guild Inn and it’s history along with several preserved pieces of early Toronto architecture.

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May saw the release of Dufferin Creek which featured the remains of a 150 year old plank road that ran up Dufferin Street near Finch Avenue.  It is related to Garbage Park which was a post featured in The Toronto Star.  The spikes in the planks from the old road are 2 inches thick and 3 feet long.

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The first day of summer saw the release of our most popular post of all time.  The Newmarket Ghost Canal features the remains of the nearly completed but long abandoned attempt to link Newmarket to Lake Simcoe by a canal.

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In July we completed our first 100 posts on Hiking the GTA and issued a review called Greatest Treks.  One of the most interesting hikes of the month was The Stonecutter’s Dam.  We visited an old dam near the Forks of the Credit which is made of blocks of cut stone.  It also sports a rare stone penstock as seen below.

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On August 15th we checked out Kerosene Castle in Oakville.  The castle was built by Richard Shaw who was refining coal into kerosene in a factory across the street on Sixteen Mile Creek. Until it blew up, that is!  When we got looking at the pictures we saw that one of them appears to have a large face in the oriel window.  It doesn’t show up in any other pictures we took that day.

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September 12th we visited the Ghost Town of Sixteen Hollow to see what remains of the formerly thriving mill village on Sixteen Mile Creek.  There is plenty of history here but all that remains of the original village is the church and the some newer bridge structures.

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October featured a discovery related to the Caledon Aerial Tramway which made for an interesting hike.  On the 24th we found the 2 inch steel cable on The Cox Property. The underground chamber for the cable is seen below.

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in 1962 a quarry blasted a gap in the escarpment near Milton.  We visited The Gap on Nov. 14th in a hike that went on to become the second most popular story so far.

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December was a busy time but it was an interesting month of hiking as well.  We were back in Oakville on Sixteen Mile Creek on Dec. 13th when we visited The Vandalized Memorial to Taras Shevchenko.  The museum was burned down, the monuments stolen and the site abandoned.

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Thanks again for reading Hiking the GTA in 2015 and we hope you all have a great 2016 and enjoy the trails!  We’re looking forward to many great hikes this year ourselves.

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Guildwood Park

Sunday April 19, 2015

I went to Guildwood park because the second oldest house in Toronto is preserved here.  I found the house and a whole lot more.  I parked in the parking lot of the former Guild Inn and went for a walk in the cool sunshine.

In 1795 Augustus Jones, who had surveyed Yonge Street, was commissioned to survey Scarborough.  It is said that Jones built the log cabin on the property for his crew to live in during the work but records show that his men lived in tents at this time.  Regardless of the details it is generally accepted that this is the oldest house in Scarborough and the second oldest in Toronto.

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The property was originally granted to William Osterhout in 1805.  Over the next 100 years a series of owners lived on the property.  In 1914 Colonel Harold C. Bickford built his country estate on 40 acres of land with a view over lake Ontario.  His 33 bedroom mansion, known as Ranelagh Park, is featured in the cover photo.  Bickford fought in the Boer war, was a Brigadier General in the First World War and then led anti-Bolshevic forces in Russia following the war.  He and his family enjoyed the view from atop the Scarborough Bluffs for only a few years before the house was sold in 1921 for use by an order of Catholic Missionaries.  Over the next ten years it also served as a home for a wealthy business man and finally it sat empty for a couple of years.

In 1932 Rosa and Spencer Clark took over the property and started the Guild of All Arts.  Under their management the property was expanded with additions to the house being made throughout the 1930’s and 1940’s.  A 6 story hotel tower was added in 1965 to accommodate all the people who were visiting the artist colony.  The tower sat empty from 2001 until 2009 when it was demolished.  The picture below shows the sprawling mansion as it looks today with all of its additions.

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In 1940 a sculpture studio was built.  Various artists worked here over the years including Dorsey James who created the Norse carvings on the door and along the roof line in 1970.

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The Guild sits on top of the Scarborough Bluffs with beautiful views out over the lake.

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During World War II the property was operated by the Women’s Royal Navy Service.  In 1947 it was returned to the Clarks who picked up where they had left off.  They became concerned that much of the late 19th and early 20th century artwork that decorated buildings in Toronto was being destroyed to make way for new development.  They started to collect or buy interesting parts of demolished buildings and move them to the Guild Inn property where they had them re-assembled.  Today there are parts of over 30 buildings on display on the grounds.

The four Corinthian columns in the picture below stood at the entrance to the Banker’s Bond Building at 60 King Street West.  The Banker’s Bond building was constructed in 1920 and demolished in 1973.

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The building originally looked like this.  The street address sign stood over the doorway but was placed in the middle when the columns were put back together.

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The Bank of Toronto stood on the south west corner of King and Bay streets from 1912 to 1966. The bank was founded in 1857 by George Gooderham, son of William Gooderham who owned Gooderham and Worts distillery in Toronto.  The bank merged with The Dominion Bank on Feb. 1, 1955 to form the Toronto Dominion Bank.  The columns in Guildwood Park have been set up in a different configuration than the original building.  The three arched entrances have been split up and placed on three sides of the monument.

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The Bank of Toronto building in 1915.  The three arches were located side by side at the entrance to the bank.

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The Canadian Bank of Commerce has stood on the north west corner of Yonge and Bloor for over a century.  This ornate date stone was rescued from the 1899 building.  It was removed in 1972 to make way for the new 34 story tower that CIBC built at Two Bloor West.

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The building as it appeared in 1922.

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The Temple Building was constructed in 1896 on the corner of Bay and Richmond Streets.  It was built as the international headquarters for the Independent Order of Foresters who claim to have originated in the 14th century in England as a friendly society caring for the sick.  I love the horses head on the top of this piece.

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At 12 stories it was the tallest building in the city upon completion.  It was demolished in 1970.

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The Royal Conservatory of Music was founded in 1886 as the Toronto Conservatory of Music. Their building at College Street and University Avenue was built in 1897 and demolished in 1968.

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A trail winds it’s way down the hill to where an old construction road leads to the edge of Lake Ontario.  It practically cries out to be explored.  Perhaps another time.

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Today the Guild Inn sits empty once again.  The signs in the window declare it to be a hazard due to asbestos and mold.  It’s future is in question.  Will it get cleaned up or demolished?

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