Saturday, September 14, 2013

Early Maps of the Area

The earliest maps of the Craven Road area offer a fascinating journey. They don't always necessarily agree with each other, but each one gives some quirky little spark of discovery that can fire your imagination.

Let's start in one of the earliest years the neighbourhood appears on a map, at least in any recognizable detail. This image, courtesy of the City of Toronto Archives via Nathan Ng's fabulous website Historical Maps of Toronto, is from an 1851 map of the Township of York.

The road across the top will become Danforth Avenue, and the one marked "Kingston Road" will become Queen Street East up to the point where it veers off diagonally at the point marked "Tavern" and "Steam SM" (the location of a steam-powered sawmill – see page 6 of The Beach in Pictures). The map shows a few buildings, the numbers dividing the concession into 100-acre lots, some marshy area around Ashbridges Bay, and... not much else:

(Click here to access the full map)
1851 Map of the Township of York in the County of York Upper Canada, by J.O. Browne
McGill University's Canadian County Atlas Digital Project includes a map from 1878 which shows Greenwood Avenue on the left-most side, with various "Heirs of Jesse Ashbridge" listed as owners of strips of land moving eastward till a "J. Platt" appears, then two blank lots (which are probably on either side of what will eventually become Coxwell Avenue), followed by a "Sam Hill". The road on the right-hand side is Woodbine Avenue:

(Click here for full-size map)
1878 Atlas of the South East part of York
Next up is an 1884 fire-insurance atlas of Toronto by the Charles E. Goad Company. S. Hill seems to have bought more land, and the Ashbridge Estate looks smaller than before. Still no sign of Coxwell Avenue:

(Click here for full-size map)
1884 Atlas of the City of Toronto  
With the next instalment of the Goad Atlas in 1890, Sam Hill seems to have sold all his land to an E.H. Duggan, a strip of Queen Street east of Greenwood is now part of the city of Toronto, and both Coxwell Ave. and Upper Gerrard Street both make their first appearances:

(Click here for full-size map)
1890 Atlas of the City of Toronto  
Below is an 1891 map which shows an intriguing two possible dotted-line options for routing Gerrard Street through the Ashbridge Estate. It's a shame the diagonal route didn't pan out, removing the need for the confusing one-block jog Gerrard now takes at Coxwell Avenue. Interesting also that Reid (now Rhodes) becomes Grand Avenue below the train tracks, and there is no sign of any other streets within the Ashbridge Estate area.
(Click here for full-size map)
1891 Plan of the City of Toronto and suburbs shewing new & old ward divisions, by Seymour R Penson  
The following 1892 map of Toronto and Suburbs East of the Don, like the map above, lists present-day Rhodes as "Grand Avenue" below the tracks, and even shows lots laid out, though without numbers. The unusual feature of this map is the blank strip between the Ashbridge Estate and those plots along Grand – that strip is exactly in the right place to explain what will eventually become the one-sided frontage of Erie Terrace, aka Craven Road:

(Click here for full-size map)
1892 Map of Toronto and Suburbs, East of the Don, Including East Toronto Village, by Abrey & Tyrrell 
There's a number of gorgeous bird's-eye view maps of Toronto around this time, including this circa-1892 one promoting the use of the Toronto Railway Company's streetcar lines:

(Click here for full-size map)
c.1892 Toronto Railway Company's Map Showing Street Railway Lines,   
In the following detail you can find Coxwell Avenue, which starts in the bottom-right corner, just west of the oval Woodbine Racetrack where Eastern Avenue curves up to meet Queen Street. Follow it diagonally past what looks like very few buildings indeed, across the curve of the railroad to where it meets Danforth Avenue in the top-left corner:

(Click image for larger version)
detail, Toronto Railway Company map
The bird's-eye view below is similar, but even more beautiful. It's from a Toronto Public Library virtual exhibition called "All Aboard Toronto":

(Click here for full-size map)
1893 Bird’s Eye View Chromolithograph, by Barclay, Clark & Co.

As in the first bird's-eye detail, click to enlarge the image and look for Coxwell running diagonally across the landscape, starting just to the left of the junction of Queen with Eastern and Kingston Road:

(Click image for larger version)
detail, Bird’s Eye View
As described in an earlier post, since the district around present-day Craven Road (called "Midway") was outside the city limits and therefore not covered by any city's fire protection, there was probably not much interest from insurance companies in covering it, which is why Goad's atlas updates show no change from the 1890 version above, through the 18931899, and 1903 editions. But Midway finally gets some detail in this 1910 map, a year after Toronto annexed it and East Toronto on December 15, 1909:

(Click here for full-size map)
1910 Atlas of the City of Toronto, plates 106107109 and 110
Here's a close-up on Erie Terrace all the way from Danforth down to Queen. Note that the map shows structures along the laneway, but no lot lines. There's also a mysterious label "Reserve", for which there is no explanation in the atlas key (see the post "Craven Railroad?" for one possible theory).

detail, 1910 Atlas of the City of Torontoplates 106107109 and 110
Here's the 1913 Goad atlas:

(Click here for full-size map)
1913 Atlas of the City of Toronto, plates 106, 107, 109 and 110
And here's another close-up on Erie Terrace:

detail, 1913 Atlas of the City of Toronto, plates 106107109 and 110
The Reserve label must mean that this strip of land has some unusual legal status. My best guess is that it relates to a right-of-way for a "radial" railway the city was considering building later in the decade. More on this in a later post...