The Origins of the David Dunlap Observatory

As we continue to celebrate the Society’s 50th Anniversary, we are sharing articles from past issues of our membership magazine. In honour of the official opening of the David Dunlap Observatory, we look back to the November/December 2002 issue of Heritage on the Hill and this article by Elinor Humphreys Graham.

The existence of an observatory in our midst is positively dependent on three persons, namely Mrs. Jessie Donalda Dunlap, Dr. Clarence August Chant, and Dr. Reynold Kenneth Young. It stands today as a vital and living monument to them.

The City of Toronto and the University of Toronto needed a research centre for the oldest and most majestic of the sciences astronomy. Mrs. Jessie Dunlap was a very wealthy widow, living in Rosedale in 1926, when she received a copy of an article from The Star Weekly, written by Dr. C. A. Chant, professor at the University of Toronto and founder of its Department of Astronomy. Both Mr. and Mrs. Dunlap had long shared a deep interest in the science of Astronomy and when Dr. Chant asked if she might be interested in supporting his project – a research centre – she responded positively and enthusiastically. Needless to say, Dr. Chant was overjoyed.

Due to Mrs. Dunlap’s magnificent gift to the University of Toronto, she and Dr. Chant found the ideal site on a hill on the east side of Yonge Street, 15 miles north of the old city limits, now part of Richmond Hill. In due course the David Dunlap Observatory became a reality and was officially opened on May 31, 1935, by Mrs. Dunlap, and named in memory of her late husband, David. It was the culmination of nine years of hard work, and the lifelong dream of Dr. Chant, who had been on the staff of the University of Toronto since 1904, founded and became the first head of its Department of Astronomy and then founded the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

May 31st was chosen as opening day especially since it was the 70th birthday of Dr. Chant, and he was formally retiring, so became Director of the Observatory for one day only. Officially, Dr. R. K. Young, professor of astrophysics at the University of Toronto, followed Dr. Chant as Director on June 1st, 1935; in reality its first director. Dr. Young was born on a Binbrook, Ontario farm, on October 4th 1886, one of thirteen children born to Robert Young and Jean Bell. Reynold Young was very studious, excelled academically and graduated with honours and was a gold medalist from the University of Toronto.

With Dr. Chant he had led a Canadian party on an eclipse expedition to Australia, and afterwards joined Dr. Chant as Professor of Astronomy at the University of Toronto in 1924. Dr. Young obtained his PhD at the Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton in southern California and held positions at Kansas Observatory and at the Dominion Observatory in Ottawa, thence to the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Victoria, B.C. with its 72 inch telescope, the second largest in the world at that time, 1918.

Dr. Young’s contributions to the U. of T. are embodied and made manifest in the present David Dunlap Observatory. He had the necessary experience at major observatories for design, specifications, construction, instrumentation, installation, and testing of the 74 inch reflecting telescope and its dome, the
finest in the British Empire and second largest in the world at the time. The observatory administration building with its laboratory and shop equipment were his responsibility also. In his spare time between 1926 and 1928 he built a nineteen inch reflecting telescope which is still in use at the observatory. Dr. Young as director kept the large 74 inch reflector fully active during World War II in spite of a shortage of staff. He published 96 scientific papers, determined the radical velocities of 2,152 stars and the absolute magnitudes of over 1,100 stars. He worked on the sub-commission of the International Astronomical Union. He was a Fellow and life member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, serving as National President for two years, 1932 and 1933. He was a life member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a member of the American Astronomical Society, an Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1923, and in 1973 was made an Honourary Life Member, the first to receive this rare honour.

Dr. Young retired January 1st 1946 with the title of Professor Emeritus of the University of Toronto, and Director Emeritus of the David Dunlap Observatory. He had married for the second time in September 1936, to Mrs. Amy Gertrude Phillips Graham, a resident of Richmond Hill, and widow of the late William Howard Graham and mother of four children, Philip, Marjorie, Wallace, and George.

Dr. and Mrs. Young continued to live in Richmond Hill, until 1964 when they moved to Cobourg where Mrs. Young passed over in 19 73, and Dr. Young in 1977. They are both resting in Richmond Hill Presbyterian Cemetery.

Due to his loyal dedication, disciplined devotion to duty, and unrivalled capabilities, Dr. Young was indispensable to Dr. Chant and the Department of Astronomy. The role that the University of Toronto was and is able to play in modem astronomy was determined by the way Dr. Reynold K. Young built and launched the David Dunlap Observatory 67 years ago in 1935.

24 May 1939 Victoria Day on Yonge Street

As we continue to celebrate the Society’s 50th Anniversary, we are sharing articles from past issues of our membership magazine. In honour of Victoria Day, we look back to the May/June 1996 issue of Heritage on the Hill and this article by Harry Suter.

Dark clouds of war hung low over Europe that bright Spring of 1939. Young people felt threatened because they would be needed to staff the Armed Services. Stories from World War I (the Great War, it was still called) began to spike our conversation with its tales of carnage. High school students compared the life styles and uniforms of the Navy, Army and Air Force. The life expectancy in each branch was debated with some interest.

Richmond Hill’s telephone poles were plastered with the 24th of May Fair flyers. Games! Horses! Street Dance! Come to the Fair! Towns all over Southern Ontario held such Fairs. Richmond Hill was famous for it’s Street Dance, an annual rural institution. I had never attended the dance, only the hoopla in the fair grounds.

A short walk down Lorne (Avenue) brought you to the Arena where the gate was festooned with flashing lights. The chatter of the crowd and the carioca music carried out to Church Street where the echoing chants from the midway announcers, booming out of the loud speakers were overwhelming. You jangled the money in your pocket to decide just which booth you would try first.

There was the ubiquitous coconut throw where you got three baseballs for ten cents to throw at stacked wooden pins about twenty feet distant on a wooden table. It seemed a ridiculously large target for teenage soft ball players. In the end it usually cost at least fifty cents to win a ropy fifteen cent coconut.

There were ring throwing games where you must encircle a wooden block under a glamorous prize to win. The hoop was almost identical in size with the diagonal over the corners of the block making the game deceptively difficult.

There was a honey tongued barker coaxing each girl to buy a ticket to allow him to guess her weight within five pounds. If he failed she won a kewpie doll.

Brawny young fellows hammered at a lever which shot a heavy ball up a twenty foot track topped with a ball. He showed off bulging biceps to his girl while smacking the device mightily. When the bell rang, it was accompanied by an ecstatic shout of victory over the loud speaker from the attendant and the dramatic presentation of a giant panda toy to the competitor’s girl.

A redolent buttered popcorn aroma floated temptingly over the crowd and many a mother’s supper was thwarted by the frothy stickiness of pink cotton candy.

When your cash was getting low or you had won a giant teddy bear for your princess, you would sit on the grass and watch the horses. The late afternoon hours could be spent quietly watching earnest young aristocrats urge giant horses over loose railed hurdles.

The sharp ammonia aroma of the horses and the flying clods from their hooves were a relaxing end to an exciting day at the fair. After supper the serious gamblers took a whirl at the roulette wheels. The currency at the wheel was cigarettes but one could sell the prizes back to the croupier for the retail price, twenty five cents a package of twenty five.

After dark, near eight o’clock, the glamour of gambling wore thin except for some fanatic gamblers. The remainder of the young adults began to drift up towards the band stand on Yonge Street for the street dance.

This was the first year that dancing had caught my fancy. Up until now, girls had been shadows in the water. They could be seen, but were difficult to get your hands on.

One could expect country western music, square dances and the like at a pre-war street dance. They were obviously lively and fun, but never the less old fashioned, the diversion of the previous generation. My age class had their own thing.

Things got off to a roaring start at eight o’clock with a Virginia Reel and a high stepping Dip for the Oyster, Dive for the Clam square dance. The radial track scarred pavement of Yonge Street was powdered and yet shiny under the harsh glare of street lights.

The orchestra was ensconced on a 20 foot square wooden platform thrown up in the middle of the street at Yonge’s north end near Crosby. The fiddle bows screeched. The dos-i-dos and allemande lefts were exciting and lively, setting a fast pace for the country dancers.

As time crept on the young adult crowd called for some jive. Many of us had never heard the term.

A group of teenagers from Lawrence Park Collegiate in the north end of Toronto called for the orchestra to play Jazz. The band responded with gusto.

In the last hour before midnight they showed us the new craze which was sweeping the country. It had started in New York’s Harlem about 1935.

I saw Roy Holmes and his girl Ruth Kerswell watching but they were too dignified to be caught up in this type of melee. University students were of a different genre. Dave McGibbon was a bemused spectator. The farmers who lingered were as intrigued as I.

The pace speeded. Drums rumbled with vigour as In the Mood and Frenesee were pounded out. Clarinets and saxophones wailed.

Lanky teenage youths and gum chewing girls swarmed on to the street to swing at arm’s length and sway to the fast rhythm of this intoxicating new music. Heads were high and backs straight as these Bobby Soxers hopped to the new beat, swaying and weaving with the gait so smooth a glass of water would al¬most balance on their heads.

Much of the time these pagan prancers were not even in contact. They gyrated at about three feet from one another, meeting to pirouette, even turning away from partners to clap hands, wave, step out and return. Round young fannies gyrated like bobbing bumble bees.

The girls wore pony tail hair styles with fancy barrettes, and were mostly clad in calf length plaid skirts, tight at the hips and flaring just above the knees. They wore flat sole shoes and ankle length socks with tartan design at the top. They chewed gum almost in time with the music and bore a faraway look as they danced appearing almost hypnotized. The girls seemed to be focused on the music while the boys relaxed in loose gaited abandonment.

It was an intricate dance with many sequences. A girl I knew from Earl Haig Collegiate beckoned me to her with a grin over the side line ropes. I stumbled through a few bars before retiring in confusion when I found how complex the steps were. When I returned to the next street dance a full year later, I had still not mastered the jitterbug steps.

When I was on leave in London, I took some dance lessons which stood me in good stead in Belgium and Holland where the girls all seemed able to float like a cloud to a simple accordion solo.

I do not remember any 24th of May jamborees when I returned from service.

The dancers in Richmond Hill this night bobbed and weaved in syncopated lock step until 11:55 P.M. The band played Good Night Ladies and The King sharp at midnight.

The trolley was allowed to rumble past the barrier at the station up to the north terminal at Elgin when the crowd pitched in to dismantle the band stand. There were mighty few automobiles at that time of night.

Most of the dancers found their way into Fetch’s Trolley Station Grill at Lorne (Avenue). I replenished my bottomless cave with a toasted western sandwich and hot cocoa.

When the last trolley rolled south, a happy crew of teenagers greeted it in good natured banter with Corsets, the conductor who stood stiff as a ram rod while piloting the radial rocket. He was usually good natured and put up with the hijinks of the school crowd with a grin and a shrug as we filed aboard.

The radial swerved sharply from the centre of Yonge when it reached Major Mac (Markham Road). Then it hurtled in heart throbbing haste down the hill, travelling on the east side of No. 11. The first stop was May Ave.

When I alighted at stop 20, there were still as many riders going further south, as far as Toronto. They were happily dos-i-doing in the drivers cubicle at the rear end of the radial car while the conductor just shook his head and grinned.

Richmond Hill 150 Years Ago: Streets and Sidewalks

The effort Richmond Hill’s early councils put into streets and sidewalks set the stage for the growth and development seen in the city today, writes Jim Vollmershausen

By Jim Vollmershausen
Published by the Richmond Hill Liberal, Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Richmond Street looking east, circa. 1909, showing the road and sidewalk. The United Church (formerly Methodist Church) can be seen in the background. – Courtesy of RHPL

The new Richmond Hill council met for the first time on Jan. 20, 1873 after a municipal election earlier that month. It’s easy to imagine that expectations were high — they had waited a long time to reach official village status, and there was work to be done. One of the reasons people were anxious to manage their own affairs, after all, was the complaint they were being ignored by the two townships (Vaughan Township west of Yonge Street and Markham Township east of Yonge Street) that had shared responsibility for their community. The condition of Yonge Street, their main thoroughfare, had to be top of mind, and how their village would grow without good streets and sidewalks.

The sidewalk along west side of Yonge Street in front of the old High School at the corner of Yonge and Wright Streets, circa. 1910s. – Courtesy of RHPL

Of necessity, much of the new council’s early efforts were devoted to civic appointments and the passage of bylaws governing a variety of activities in the village, ranging from determining conditions for tavern and business licences to bylaws setting terms for snow, ice and dirt removal and dog taxes. In addition, a considerable portion of their time was taken up by the need to deal with education. A new high school was urgently needed and much of the first council’s time and funds went to meet that requirement. As a result, other areas just didn’t get much attention, including streets and sidewalks. Records show, for example, that in all of 1873, only $201.69 was devoted to street improvements.

From that meagre start, improvements to Richmond Hill’s street network gradually took a bit more precedence in council deliberations and expenditures. Over the next 10 years, council minutes demonstrate that upgrading their streets and sidewalks was becoming more and more important. Funds were provided, for example, to build or repair the village’s board or plank sidewalks. This meant two-metre-wide sidewalks on Yonge Street and one metre wide on side streets. Funding was also provided to build new roads in the village, which led, for example, to the construction of Trench Street as an alternate north-south connection between Richmond and Mill streets on the western side of Yonge Street. One interesting project was a decision to purchase second-hand gas-fired street lamps from the Village of Yorkville for the illumination of Yonge Street. The used lamps cost $4 each.

Yonge Street looking south from the corner of Arnold Crescent, ca 1910s. – Courtesy of RHPL

Even with these improvements, municipal funds for streets and sidewalks did not loom large in the overall scheme of things. Richmond Hill, after all, was still a small village — in 1877, four years after its incorporation, its population consisted of only 659 people, only 151 of which were ratepayers. The village raised $1,667 in municipal taxes that year and just over $1,000 for education. Roads and bridges only accounted for $287.

Though funds were obviously limited, council did continue to approve projects designed to make it easier to get around a village that was just starting to grow. During the new village’s first 15 or 20 years, when they had much more say in the decisions that affected them, main streets were widened and their condition was improved, new streets were constructed to accommodate growth and provide space for new housing and commercial developments, nighttime lighting was provided, primarily on Yonge Street, and sidewalks were laid or improved along the busiest streets.

Yonge Street, looking south with the road, sidewalk and radial railway tracks, circa. 1912. – Courtesy of RHPL

Then, as now, streets and sidewalks had to share their place in a municipality’s list of priorities with many other issues. In the 1870s and 1880s, that included the development of parklands, the funding of a fire brigade, and financial assistance for “indigent persons” and the “aged and Infirm.” Over the last 150 years, though, the efforts that early councils put into streets and sidewalks set the stage for the kind of development and growth we are experiencing today.

Jim Vollmershausen is president of the Richmond Hill Historical Society. The society can be found online at

(1920s) Yonge Street Remembered [Part 2]

As we continue to celebrate the Society’s 50th Anniversary, we are sharing articles from past issues of our membership magazine. As the City of Richmond Hill celebrates its 150th Anniversary, we will post some articles that share recollections of Richmond Hill of the past. Here we look back to the September/October 1996 issue of Heritage on the Hill and part 2 of an article by Harry Sayers. Read part 1 here.

Having previously covered (more or less) the east side of Yonge, we begin on the west side at Major Mac (then Vaughan or Maple Road, in the 1920’s) where the McGibbon house was on the southwest comer while on the north was the sign proclaiming “Richmond Hill – Toronto’s Highest and Healthiest Suburb -762 feet above sea level – the Rose Growing Centre of Canada.”

Further north came the Anglican Church of St. Mary, the Presbyterian Manse and Church with the original frame manse still on the front corner of the Presbyterian property on the south side of the lane leading to the Presbyterian cemetery. That manse is now at Black Creek Pioneer Village.

Yonge Street from Major Mackenzie Drive showing St. Mary's Anglican Church and the Richmond Hill Presbyterian Church, ca. 1915. (Photograph courtesy Richmond Hill Public Library, PA91-005)
Yonge Street from Major Mackenzie Drive showing St. Mary’s Anglican Church and the Richmond Hill Presbyterian Church, ca. 1915. (Photograph courtesy Richmond Hill Public Library, PA91-005)

Soon, we come to the home and shop of renowned watchmaker Jerry Smith,(daughter Audrey Koning can tell you more), then the Public School, later the McConaghy Centre named after Mrs. L. M. McConaghy who was my first teacher on our arrival in the Hill in 1924 and Walter Scott was the Principal.

Next we come to the Palmer House later the Greenholme Apts, and recently torn down. Across Arnold St., the Palmer Brick Block, later called the Lorne Block, which housed, at various times a bank, shoe store, barber shop, etc. while the north end housed the fire house with the Council Chambers on the second floor.

The Palmer House Hotel beside the Palmer Block, later the Lorne Block, ca. 1910s. (Photograph courtesy of the Richmond Hill Public Library, card-33)
The Palmer House Hotel beside the Palmer Block, later the Lorne Block, ca. 1910s. (Photograph courtesy of the Richmond Hill Public Library, card-33)

Along this block were Glass’ Meat Market, Green’s Tailor Shop, the Rustic Inn, Bruno’s Fruit Market later the Fisher General Store, Bill Davies house and dry goods store with the Ontario Hydro office on the second floor.

The Rustic Inn, ca.  1920s. (Photograph courtesy Richmond Hill Public Library, RH12-20)
The Rustic Inn, ca. 1920s. (Photograph courtesy Richmond Hill Public Library, RH12-20)

Adjacent was the first (?) Dominion Store where I earned 15 cents for each order I delivered on my wagon! Then came Stein’s Store at Centre Street. Further north was the home of A. G. Savage with the Post Office in the South wing. Following were such stores as Isobel Hewitt’s Wool Shop, the Chinese Laundry and Wellman’s Men’s Wear at Richmond Street.

Across the street was Abraham Law’s house (later the Wright house) torn down to make way for a Sunoco service station. Close by was Carl Swanson’s garage with the gas pumps right at the curb. Then came the Anglican rectory, later Bettie’s Restaurant and it’s neighbour, the old High School (later the Municipal Hall).

Halfway up the next block was the Richmond Hill Dairy, Cowie’s (later Hunt’s) blacksmith’s shop and next door the property of Dr. Rolph and Lillian Langstaff, whose house was later moved by Dr. Jim to the rear of the property to face on Hall Street.

Further north, we come to Wright & Taylor’s Funeral Home (now Marshall’s), with the B. A. service station, operated at one time by A. White and Wilt Young, while across Benson Ave. was Cec Mabley’s White Rose station. Then came Little’s Ford agency and nearby Harold Reid’s service station. That brings us to just about the north limits of the village on that side of Yonge Street.

Here’s hoping that these reminders of the past, will recall to your minds memories of the “good old days” – they were, weren’t they ?????????

(1920s) Yonge Street Remembered [Part 1]

As we continue to celebrate the Society’s 50th Anniversary, we are sharing articles from past issues of our membership magazine. As the City of Richmond Hill celebrates its 150th Anniversary, we will post some articles that share recollections of Richmond Hill of the past. Here we look back to the May/June 1996 issue of Heritage on the Hill and this article by Harry Sayers.

Yonge Street looking south taken around 1930. The Palmer House Hotel is on the right side of the road by the two cars. (photo courtesy of Richmond Hill Public Library, PA92-005)
Yonge Street looking south taken around 1930. The Palmer House Hotel is on the 
right side of the road by the two cars. (photo courtesy of Richmond Hill Public Library, PA92-005)

Recalling memories of Yonge Street when I was young (quite a bit younger than today) is quite a challenge. It’s hard to be accurate as to dates etc. but memories do exist so I’ll give it a try.

Let’s start with the east side and since I’m recalling the 20’s, I’ll keep mainly to the village as it was then.

South of Major Mac, then the Markham Rd., were the Harding and Palmer farms whose names live on in street names. The Palmer house at the corner of Yonge and Major Mac is now a real estate office.

Further north we come to a series of brick houses, some now replaced by service stations, etc. One exception was the Stanford Nursing Home, now an office building.

Across from the Presbyterian Church was a tenement block, later the home of the Liberal, then the Richmond Inn with the Liberal Office, bowling alley and theatre. Of course the Standard Bank now a computer store. Almost forgot, the Cities Service garage, just to the south of the bank.

Then came the Trench Block with hardware, grocery and drug stores in turn up to Lorne Ave.

On the north east corner of Lorne/Yonge was the old Radial Station with the spur running beside the loading platform. Here one bought tickets for the radial cars which at this time ran from North Toronto to Lake Simcoe via Aurora and Newmarket with a branch line to Schomberg. Oak Ridges was known as Schomberg Junction in those days. Roses from our several greenhouses were shipped to Toronto from the radial station while we newsboys picked up our Toronto newspapers which arrived by the radial cars.

Moving the radial railway tracks from the east side of Yonge Street to the centre of the road for the first paving of Yonge Street in October 1927 (photo courtesy of Richmond Hill Public Library, RH12-26)
Moving the radial railway tracks from the east side of Yonge Street to the centre of the road for the first paving of Yonge Street in October 1927 (photo courtesy of Richmond Hill Public Library, RH12-26)

The next block saw several stores over the years, such as Glenn’s Drug Store, Morley’s groceries, Mansbridge’s Meats, Skeele’s house and store, Braithwaite (Charlton’s) Hardware, the telephone exchange in the house at the southeast corner of Yonge/Centre E.

To the north of the United Church, came the Masonic Temple, and close by the “Fireproof Store” which was the location of David Hill’s wholesale tobacco and confectionary business, to become in 1940 our first Canadian Tire Store (still operated by a member of the Hill family at Yonge/16th Ave.).

The Fire Proof, rebuilt by Parker Crosby after the great fire of 1866. (photograph courtesy of Richmond Hill Public Library, PA89-033)
The Fire Proof, rebuilt by Parker Crosby after the great fire of 1866, shown circa. 1880s. (photograph courtesy of Richmond Hill Public Library, PA89-033)

Further north was Hopper’s Meat Market, later to be operated by the Kerr Brothers. At Dufferin St. (now Dunlop St.) was the Hill Bakery but I remember it as Eden’s Grocery and Bakery. Just to the north was then St. Mary’s Catholic Church and rectory.

Although set well back from Yonge St. and these days blocked off by houses on the south side of Bedford Park Ave. was Crosby Hall with it’s magnificent pine trees and lawn stretching to Yonge Street. Later the home of the Angle family (Mr. Angle being the general manager of Bedford Park greenhouses). The huge lawn was often the site of strawberry festivals and the like.

At the edge of the then north village boundary was the home of Col. Moodie who died while trying to reach Toronto to warn of the 1837 rebellion. Then there was the Burr Feed Mill, a great attraction to many young residents of the village.

Granted there are other places of interest, such as Ransom’s Barber Shop and other establishments but space forbids mention of them even if my memory permitted.

Hopefully these comments will stir some happy memories and perhaps the future will permit memories of the west side of Yonge Street in the 20’s to be recalled.

Sixty-Eight Years of Artificial Ice in Richmond Hill

Black and white photograph of the arena at Church Street and Lorne Avenue as it appeared in the 1950s. (photograph courtesy Gerry Roy/Richmond Hill Public Library from Later Days in Richmond Hill: A Portrait of the Community from 1930-1999 by Marney Beck Robinson and Joan Clark)
The arena at Church Street and Lorne Avenue as it appeared in the 1950s. (photograph courtesy Gerry Roy/Richmond Hill Public Library from Later Days in Richmond Hill: A Portrait of the Community from 1930-1999 by Marney Beck Robinson and Joan Clark)

March 19 commemorates 68 years since the official unveiling of artificial ice at the Richmond Hill Arena. The arena, originally built in 1923, frequently had problems with its natural ice surface resulting in many disappointments for residents eager to skate. In fact, in his Sports column in the Richmond Hill Liberal of April 29, 1954, Bill Ellis wrote:

That “No Skating” sign operates on a hinge with a sign that says “Skating.” The affair is locked by a padlock in either position. You might as well lock the “No Skating” portion in place and throw away the key because that’s what it reads 99 and 44/100 per cent of the time.”

Enter the Richmond Hill Arena Association!

In 1954, this not-for-profit organization was formed, whose primary mandate was to raise funds to outfit the arena with artificial ice. The community members that originally spearheaded this effort included: Craig Bowden, Jack Hart, Bill Savage, Alec Clarke, Al White, Jack Hollowell, Bill Gilchrist, Ralph Paris, Morley Hall, Alex Baird, Elgin Barrow, Cec Mabley, Walt Smith, Harry Bawden, Art Gibson, Morley Williams, Floyd Pratt, Norm Todd and Bill Ellis. The group formed subcommittees, including a Campaign Committee led by Ralph Paris and a Technical Committee led by Alex Baird.

Black and white photograph of Bill Ellis, Elgin Barrow, Bill Hall, Walter Smith and Hugh Mackay during the construction. (RHPL, Burt Hunt fonds, 2012.5.1)
Bill Ellis, Elgin Barrow, Bill Hall, Walter Smith and Hugh Mackay during the construction. (Richmond Hill Public Library, Bert Hunt fonds, 2012.5.1)

On May 10, 1954, the Arena Association launched a $50,000 fundraising campaign. They were quickly helped along by a quick first donation of $1,000 by Bing Lew, owner of the Town Inn and one of our community’s most notable philanthropists. He would later fund the building of a pool at the Loyal True Blue and Orange Home on Yonge Street, near Elgin Mills. These are just two of many contributions that Mr. Lew made, often to the benefit of local children.

While the campaign did not realize its $50,000 goal, the Association was ultimately successful in bringing artificial ice to the arena. Their Fall campaign in 1954 brought in a respectable $24,000 and saw membership in the Association total approximately 600.

In February 1955, Walter Smith and Elgin Barrow signed a 15-year lease on the arena for $1 per year.

Then, on March 19, 1955, a record-breaking crowd of 1,500 people, paid to attend the official opening of the new ice surface. Municipal and Provincial representatives attended the event, officially opened by “Timmy” of the Easter Seals Campaign. Jack Passmore served as master of ceremonies with the Town represented by Reeve W. J. Taylor.

A full program of activities were showcased at the opening, including solo figure skating performances by Richmond Hill’s own Mary MacKay and later Louis Stong. Ede Butlin called a square dance on the ice, with additional performances given by members of the Toronto and Unionville Skating Clubs. The local association was assisted in the preparation of the ice by Bert Kent, the icemaker for the Toronto Skating Club.

Not surprisingly, the introduction of a more reliable ice surface saw the popularity of skating and organized hockey grow, beginning in the mid-1950s. The arena’s importance to the community grew immensely and has seen many important events over the past 68 years of artificial ice, including the old annual midget hockey tournament. Organized by Royal Canadian Legion Branch 375, this hallmark tournament began in 1968 and saw many future NHL stars hit that artificial ice.

So as you lace up your skates for a turn around the ice at the Elgin Barrow Arena, think back with appreciation to those members of our community who worked so tirelessly and hard to make the arena such an important part of Richmond Hill’s history and put the Skating/No Skating sign onto the trash heap for good.

Further Reading:

And Away We Go” Sports column by Bill Ellis, Richmond Hill Liberal, 15 April 1954, p. 6

‘Artificial Ice in 1954’ Motto as Campaign Begins” by Bill Ellis, Richmond Hill Liberal, 20 May 1954, p. 3

First $1,000 Cheque Received for Artificial Ice CampaignRichmond Hill Liberal, 20 May 1954, p. 3

No Money – No Ice” Richmond Hill Liberal, 24 June 1954, p. 2

Official Opening Arena March 19th: Public Skating for EveryoneRichmond Hill Liberal, 3 March 1955, p. 1

‘Timmy’ to Officially Open Installation Artificial Ice in Richmond Hill Arena March 19Richmond Hill Liberal, 10 March 1955, p. 1

Arena OpeningRichmond Hill Liberal, 17 March 1955, p. 2

Record Crowd at Arena OpeningRichmond Hill Liberal, 24 March 1955, p. 1

William McDerment, MBE, Manager Richmond Hill ArenaRichmond Hill Liberal, 22 September 1955, p. 9

Richmond Hill Public Library has digitized the local newspapers from 1857-1979 and they can be searched and browsed for free by visiting

The Way Freight And Related Memories

by Jim Monkman; originally published in Heritage on the Hill, the newsletter of the Richmond Hill Historical Society of March/April 2010.

The Richmond Hill Historical Society was saddened to learn of the passing of Jim Monkman. Jim supported any and all initiatives regarding history and heritage in Richmond Hill and was always willing to lend a helping hand. He was a member of the Society for many years and served as President. Along with his wife Avonelle, they were dedicated to the preservation of the history of our community.

As part of our 50th Anniversary, as we look back at our own history, we thought it appropriate to share one of Jim’s many contributions to our newsletter from 2010.

Recently, I was enjoying a cup of coffee with John Flood, an old friend. We are both no longer young, indeed, we are well past “middle aged” and if we are not discussing our ailments our conversation is probably about “old times” That particular day we were talking about the era when Richmond Hill was known for the roses grown in the three greenhouses.

The rose growing industry moved from the Bedford Park – Lawrence Avenue area of old North Toronto about 1915 when real estate in that area was increasing in value. Four rose growing greenhouses relocated to Richmond Hill. Mr. Lawrence bought a large acreage bounded by Roseview Avenue, the Railroad Tracks, Markham Road (Major MacKenzie) and Church Street. He built his home, number 114 Roseview, at the corner of Roseview and Pugsley and his greenhouses on Roseview Avenue between his house and the railroad tracks. Harold Mills’ home, number 114 Centre Street East, was built on the north side of Centre Street East and his greenhouses on the west side of Pugsley, north of Centre Street. The Dunlop house was on the north side of what is now Dunlop Street, east of Church Street and his greenhouses ran east from Pugsley to the railroad property. I can’t remember the name of the man who established the fourth rose growing business. It was known as Bedford Park Greenhouse and was at the east end of Bedford Park Rd and east of Pugsley. The Dunlop Greenhouses were later sold to H. J. Mills, which made it the largest greenhouse business in the village

The rose growing business was the main employer in the Village. Men were needed to look after the rose plants, water them and cut the flowers as they grew. The flowers had to be graded and packaged for shipment, some by truck to Toronto and others by train to cities and towns across Canada. Men were also needed to maintain the glass buildings and replace the soil and fertilizer in the raised benches in which the roses were grown. Roses require a lot of heat and stationery engineers were employed to run the high-pressure steam boilers required to heat the greenhouses in our cold climate.

As John and I recalled these long gone days, I mentioned that the coal, which heated the greenhouses, was brought in by the train carload. Our memories and conversation turned to the part that railroad and trains used to play in our lives before the trucking and airline industry took over a lot of their business.

Richmond Hill railway station was a busy place. A great deal of materials arrived by train including coal and lumber.

Spur lines ran from the main railroad track to each of the greenhouse so that the car of coal could be delivered virtually to the boiler room door. John then recalled that another spur line ran to Johnnie Burr’s Mill and Jones coal yard which were located on the east side of Yonge Street almost opposite Levendale. Immediately, my memory took me back through the years to a bright sunny fall day in 1944.

I was fourteen years old, a student in grade 10 in the High School on Wright Street. We lived on Roseview Avenue and I always went home for lunch. This particular day, I didn’t really want to get back to school in time for the first period. I can’t recall why but as I left home I thought I would drop by the Railroad Station first to see if any of my compatriots who felt the same way would be there. The railway station was a gathering place for many of us boys and Y. B. Tracy, the station agent, kept a supply of sports equipment for our use. Not of course when we were supposed to be in school. This day I would keep out of sight of his office. The station was situated at the foot of Centre Street East. It was a fairly big property on which were the Station building, which contained the Station Agent’s Office, a waiting room for passengers and living quarters for the Agent’s family. A plank platform ran between the building and the main set of tracks north to the freight shed and the big water tank. The steam engines usually needed to fill up their tanks after pulling a load of box or passenger cars uphill from downtown Toronto. Water was pumped from a dam the railroad had built on the nearby tributary of the Rouge River to keep this big tank full.

East of the main line was a “siding” which a northbound train could switch onto and wait to allow a fast south bound passenger train to pass. West of the station buildings was the station work yard where spur lines ran to the greenhouses and coal yards.

A work train called a Way Freight would come once or twice a week to deliver full cars of coal or lumber etc and take away empty ones. The Way Freight would call at stations between Toronto’s marshalling yard and other stations on the line to do this. The next large marshalling yard was at Allendale adjacent to Barrie.

There wasn’t anyone at our usual meeting spot but the Way Freight was hooking onto an empty hopper car on I. D. Ramer’s coal yard siding. I stopped to watch and to my surprise the engineer called down to me from the cab of the steam engine “ Would you like to come for a ride. We have to pick up a car at Jones’ Coal Yard”. I leaned my bike against a nearby shed and hastily climbed up into the cab.

What a thrill. I had never dreamed of having such an opportunity. I told the Engineer and the Fireman my name and thanked them for letting me accompany them. Then, I carefully looked around.

The engineer sat on the right hand side of the cab and the fireman on the left. There were some gauges, which I guessed were showing such things as the water level in the tank above the firebox, the steam pressure, the air pressure for the train’s braking system etc. At the rear was a coal tender containing the coal to heat the water for the steam. The throttle to make the train move was by the engineer’s hand and there were some levers beside him which I assumed were to control the direction the engine would travel, the air brakes etc.

The engineer proceeded to move the train away from Ramer’s building and we travelled backwards to where there was a switch which took us onto the main spur line and then over to another switch which directed us onto the tracks which went westward to Burr’s Mill and Jones’ coal yard.

The fireman stepped on the treadle in the floor in front of the firebox. This opened the firebox door. He looked in and then motioned me to stand aside a bit and with a big coal shovel in his hand positioned himself so that he was facing the left side of the cab. Then swinging his body to the left toward the coal tender he scooped up a shovel full of coal and in one continuous motion he swung around on his left foot while raising the shovel of coal and simultaneously stepping down on the treadle with his right foot which immediately opened the door of the fire box and as he completed his swinging turn the coal flew off the shovel into the fire. He lifted his right foot off the treadle causing the fire box door to close, swung back around on his left foot to the coal tender his shovel coming down to the floor scooping up another load of coal which he lifted up and repeated his previous action until he was satisfied no more coal was needed. He did this so easily and gracefully it was as rhythmic as if he had been accompanied by music. I never forgot how he did such a backbreaking job so gracefully that it looked as if he was dancing to music and enjoying it.

In a couple of years, I had a summer job working in John Sheardown’s coal yard. I remembered that fireman’s action and found that if, when I was unloading a load of coal from the truck I could imitate that fireman’s swinging motion the work was so much easier.

How our world has changed. As well as the roses being grown in Richmond Hill there were other large rose growing business, Dale’s in Brampton and Miller’s in Concord. Now the roses we buy for our wives are flown in from South America. Coal, once used to heat the greenhouses and our homes and factories is seldom if ever seen. The coal yards have been replaced by oil trucks and gas lines. The Grist Mills, also as farmers have their own tractor powered equipment to turn their oats into food for their cows. The spur rail lines are long gone and the railway station rests at Richmond Green. And those splendid steam locomotives with their lonesome whistles which warned of their approach are very few in number and used only to give entertaining rides on long abandoned railway lines.

Celebrating 150 Years of Richmond Hill, 1873-2023

by Andrea Kulesh
Published in the Richmond Hill Liberal, February 3, 2023

Although Richmond Hill is a bustling, thriving city today, there was a time it struggled to meet the population requirements needed to incorporate into a village, writes Andrea Kulesh

Richmond Hill is a busy, thriving city but it wasn’t always so. In the early 1800s, the area was sparsely populated. It was located along Yonge Street, which was the main road leading to the north from York (Toronto) for settlers and the businesses that served them. Although Richmond Hill was a recognized village with a post office, it took many years to accumulate (or attract) enough people to be able to incorporate a village in Upper Canada (Ontario). It seemed impossible given the requirements for the number of inhabitants needed to become a village.

In 1853, there were rumblings of incorporation, but it was out of the question without the required population. One of the main issues was the division of the village on Yonge Street, with Vaughan Township on the west and Markham Township on the east. Split between two rural townships, Richmond Hill’s urban issues were often ignored. The village remained divided, delaying the establishment of its own identity, though members of the community served on the Vaughan and Markham councils. One thousand residents were required to incorporate a village, and that was more than twice the population of Richmond Hill in 1853. Public meetings were held, but to no avail — they were simply short of the necessary population.

Four years later, in 1857, due to political changes, a special act was introduced with a reduced population requirement of 750. This prompted community leaders to reopen discussions of incorporation. The York Ridings’ Gazette newspaper set out to convince the community incorporation would be a positive step, helping to improve sidewalks, sewers, organized fire prevention and many sanitary problems that needed addressing. In fact, at that time there were the required 750 residents, but the community borders were considered too large of an area. (From Lot 42, just south of Major Mackenzie and Yonge Street, to Lot 52, just north of Elgin Mills, east to Bayview Avenue and west to Bathurst Street). A meeting was held on Oct. 30, 1857 for the residents to consider this recommendation again. Amos Wright Esq., M.P.P. was called to the chair with Matthew Teefy appointed secretary. “Various speakers claimed they were contributing liberally through taxes to Markham and Vaughan townships and receiving little or nothing in return.” Resolutions were submitted and “advocated with as much force by the gentlemen whose names are attached thereto. Moved by George P. Dickson Esq., seconded by David Bridgford Esq.” Once again the resolutions were discussed but the petitioners were defeated. The issue could not be passed with the current size of the borders. The area was judged too extensive — with Elgin Mills now included. Richmond Hill and was considered too “expansionist” in 1857.

A portion of the front page of the York Ridings' Gazette and Richmond Hill Advertiser from Friday, June 12, 1857 (courtesy Richmond Hill Public Library)
A portion of the front page of the York Ridings’ Gazette and Richmond Hill Advertiser of Friday, June 12, 1857 (courtesy Richmond Hill Public Library)

It would take a further 15 years to revisit incorporation. A newly reduced area was to make it all possible. Borders were altered and in 1872, it seemed likely that incorporation would pass. By this time, every ratepayer signed the petition and was presented to York county council. The bylaw was passed without delay, the proposal was approved on June 18, 1872, and Richmond Hill was finally set on the path to its municipal future. The date was set for Jan. 1, 1873.

An advertisement to elect Abraham Law as Reeve. Ad reads as follows: Municipality of Richmond Hill, V. R. Your vote and interest are respectfully submitted for A. Law, J. P. as Reeve at the forthcoming election (from Early Days in Richmond Hill by Robert Stamp)
An advertisement promoting Abraham Law for Reeve in the January 6, 1873 Richmond Hill election. (from Early Days in Richmond Hill: A History of the Community to 1930 by Robert Stamp; courtesy Richmond Hill Public Library)

An official announcement declaring the new village status was printed and distributed by Matthew Teefy — the returning officer on Dec. 14, 1872 — inviting nominations of candidates for the new offices of Reeve and four councillors, for the “said Incorporated Village.” The date for the voting was set for Jan. 6, 1873. Eligible voters turned out for the first time to elect their village council. The results announced by the York Herald, were:

  • Abraham Law — 1st Reeve of the Village of Richmond Hill.
  • Matthew Teefy (Postmaster) — Treasurer.
  • William Warren (Farmer) — Councillor.
  • William Powell (Farmer) — Councillor.
  • Jacob Brillinger (Farmer) — Councillor.
  • David Hopkins (General Store Owner) — Councillor.
Portrait of Abraham Law, taken by George Worthington (courtesy Richmond Hill Public Library)
Abraham Law, Richmond Hill’s first Reeve. Photograph taken by George Worthington who ran a photography business at 1245 Queen Street West, Toronto (courtesy Richmond Hill Public Library)

The first council meeting on Jan. 20, 1873, was located at the Division Court Room at the Robin Hood Hotel. Civic appointments were decided with Postmaster Matthew Teefy named village clerk and treasurer, a choice position he held for the next 31 years. The following citizens were appointed to the various positions:

  • George A. Barnard & Robert Law (the Reeve’s son) as Auditors.
  • Dennis O’Brien as Assessor.
  • John Brown as Licence Inspector.
  • John Velie (owner of the hotel where council met) as Pound Keeper.
  • Benjamin Davidson as Overseer of Highways.
  • Frederick Crawford as Fire & Nuisance Officer.
  • Robert Robinson, James Freek, & John Arnold as Fence Viewers.
  • James Daniels as Collector of Dog Taxes.
Public Notice. Whereas the Municipal Council of the County of York did, on the 19th day of June, 1872, enact a By-law (Number 2016), erecting Richmond Hill into an incorporated village, under the statute in such case mad and provided, by which the undersigned was appointed Returning Officer, to hold the first election: public notice here-by given to all whom it may concern, that a meeting of the duly qualified electors of the Incorporated Village of RIchmond Hill will be held in the Public Hall, in which the Third Division Court of the County of York is usually held, in the said village, at noon, on the last Monday but one in the current month of December (being the 23rd instant), for the nomination of candidates for the offices of Reeve and four Councillors, for the said Incorporated Village. M. Teefy, Returning Officer, Richmond Hill, December 14, 1872
The Public Notice published by Matthew Teefy, Returning Officer for the nomination of candidates for the Village or Richmond Hill’s first election (courtesy Richmond Hill Public Library)

The subsequent monthly meetings would see a succession of bylaws adopted. Finally, the first Richmond Hill council was able to take responsibility for setting the path to the future of what has become the City of Richmond Hill, 150 years later.

Andrea Kulesh is vice-president of the Richmond Hill Historical Society.

Richmond Hill’s Bond Lake Park was Once a Major Attraction

Little evidence of park remains, but it was a happening spot in the first 20 years of the 20th century, writes Jim Vollmershausen
Originally published in the Richmond Hill Liberal, September 15, 2022

The Bond Lake Hotel and stables, circa 1920s. - Richmond Hill Public Library photo
The Bond Lake Hotel and stables, circa 1920s. – Richmond Hill Public Library photo

Today, Bond Lake, just south of Oak Ridges on Yonge Street, is a popular part of the Oak Ridges Trail, whether as an entry to the full length (260 kilometres) of the trail or the short loop around the lake itself. One has to wonder if the hundreds of people who enjoy the lake trails today realize that, 120 years ago, thousands of people were enjoying what the lake and its park had to offer.

From the earliest days of Richmond Hill, settlers and townsfolk used Bond Lake for fishing, swimming and boating in the summer, and curling in the winter. This casual use changed after 1899, though, when the Metropolitan Railway, which had just reached Richmond Hill the year before, began to extend its line north toward Newmarket. The railway needed more power to supply the line as it was extended, and Bond Lake provided a good supply of water for the generating station they built near its shore.

The Mary T. cruising Bond Lake in June 1927. - Richmond Hill Public Library photo
The Mary T. cruising Bond Lake in June 1927. – Richmond Hill Public Library photo

Knowing the lake was already a popular spot, the railway bought the farm surrounding the lake. Soon, landscaping was underway and railway siding and the Bond Lake Station were built to welcome the tourists they hoped to attract to the lake.

Inside the Bond Lake Powerhouse, circa 1900. The fly-wheel was approximately 18 feet in diameter. - Richmond Hill Public Library photo
Inside the Bond Lake Powerhouse, circa 1900. The fly-wheel was approximately 18 feet in diameter. – Richmond Hill Public Library photo

The railway did its best to try to create a real tourist attraction just a short rail ride from the growing Toronto area. Using surplus power from the generating station, Bond Lake Park became the first “electric” park in Ontario, and it quickly began to experience amazing attendance. In the 1901 season alone, 60,000 visitors passed through the park gates. This was great news for the railway — in addition to their park visit, the vast majority of these tourists also paid fares on the railway to get there. It is certain that local businesses also benefitted from this influx of visitors. A nearby tavern and a local hotel would have enjoyed a real increase in business as a result.

The railway did not skimp on park amenities. In addition to traditional picnic facilities, pleasant landscaping and access to swimming, fishing and boating, the park soon boasted a large concert pavilion, baseball grounds, a wading pool and a merry-go-round. Sunday school and company picnics were popular, and the park also attracted family groups and young couples. Rowboats were available for rent, or you could tour the lake in a larger launch.

The Radial Railway arriving at Bond Lake Park in June 1924. - Toronto Public Library photo
The Radial Railway arriving at Bond Lake Park in June 1924. – Toronto Public Library photo

The Metropolitan Railway Guidebook was eloquent in its praise for the park and its offerings. Clean air and cool breezes, clean water and few mosquitoes were all part of the pitch to attract visitors north, hopefully by rail. It touted the park, with its lake and trees and amenities, as a perfect place to relax, enjoy the outdoors, or even find romance through its pleasant promenades and dancing in the pavilion to a small orchestra.

Bond Lake Park was a going concern through the first 20 years of the 20th century, though its future came into question when the Toronto Transit Commission acquired the Metropolitan Railway Company in 1922. By 1929, the TTC was ready to close down the Radial Line north of Toronto due to poor ridership, and its primary interest in transit left little room for the park at Bond Lake. The park saw its last visitors in 1929.

Today, there is little evidence of Bond Lake Park to be found. Two crumbling brick pillars mark the old entrance on Yonge Street, and scattered along the trail beside the lake, hikers might find the remains of a few foundations or a twisted and partially buried merry-go-round. It’s difficult to imagine 60,000 visitors enjoying this beautiful spot in 1901.

—Jim Vollmershausen is the president of the Richmond Hill Historical Society

The Story of Richmond Hill’s ‘Langstaff Corners’ is One of Constant Change

The intersection of Yonge Street and Langstaff Road (Hwy. 7) has changed so much, the roads no longer intersect, writes Andrea Kulesh

Published online by the Richmond Hill Liberal on June 23, 2022

An image of Cook's Hotel, circa 1910, Langstaff Corners in Richmond Hill. - TPL Digital Archive
Cook’s Hotel, circa 1910, Langstaff Corners in Richmond Hill. – TPL Digital Archive

In the late 1700s, European settlement began in the area where these two roads would be built. The land on the northwest corner, Lot No. 35, was purchased by the Abner Miles family, some of the earliest arrivals. John Langstaff arrived from New Jersey a few years later and soon met and married Lucy Miles. Upon her father’s death, around 1808, they took ownership of the property. John was a very industrious person. He began as a teacher in the Thornhill area, joined the York militia to fight in the War of 1812 and, upon returning, supplemented farming with multiple businesses including a store, a smithy and factories for the manufacture of pails, shingles and eaves troughs. The area soon came to be known locally as Langstaff Corners.

We have all noticed that Richmond Hill’s Yonge Street corridor is rapidly changing. Future plans for major intersection highrise “hubs” are underway and many well-known “local” corners will alter so much that they will become unrecognizable. One such “corner” that has already changed multiple times is Yonge Street and Langstaff Road (Hwy. 7). Now-a-days, Hwy. 7 doesn’t even intersect — it is a raised roadway with ramps for access to Yonge Street.

Yonge quickly became the major link north from York. Businesses were taking root to serve local farms and to facilitate travel more easily on Yonge. By the 1830s, the Upper Canada Legislature had authorized tolls to be collected to fund road improvements, and Toll Gate No. 3 was erected at the intersection. By mid-century, Langstaff Corners had become a major stopping place for travellers on the road from Toronto to Richmond Hill and north. The toll house stood on the southwest corner and alongside it, Langstaff’s first post office opened in 1870. On that same corner, for some years, the Langstaff family enjoyed riding around an oval half-mile racetrack. The Yorkshire House, a hotel under the management of William and Jane Cook occupied the northwest corner. The Munshaw family farmed the southwest corner throughout much of the 19th century.

The original Langstaff farm stayed in the family until 1893 when the Boyle family purchased the property. The City of Toronto subsequently bought the land in 1911, just prior to the First World War, when it became part of the city’s Industrial Farm and came to be known as the Langstaff Jail Farm or the “Jail Farm.” This institution was active until the late 1950s when the operation was finally closed. The land stood unused for years with many of the buildings standing empty.

Photograph of the main building of the "Langstaff" Jail Farm around 1960. The front faced north and the back side was on Langstaff Road. (Toronto Industrial Farm). There were over 30 buildings on this site — all since demolished. - City of Toronto archives
This photo is the main building of the “Langstaff” Jail Farm around 1960. The front faced north and the back side was on Langstaff Road. (Toronto Industrial Farm). There were over 30 buildings on this site — all since demolished. – City of Toronto archives

In 1978, the Langstaff GO Station was opened along the Richmond Hill Railway Line, replaced by a new, larger and more modern one in 2005. Also, in 1978, proposals for a planned hydro corridor were tabled resulting in a large swath of the Miles/Munshaw/Langstaff farmland being utilized for this purpose, paralleling Hwy. 7 on the north side by 1985.

By 1982, Toronto council began selling the Langstaff Jail Farm property, (it encompassed a desirable block of real estate bounded by Yonge, Bayview Avenue, Hwy. 7 and 16th Sideroad). Developers quickly purchased this very large acreage and an incredible amount of development began quickly including housing, stores, schools, parks and roads. The new High Tech Road became the east-west gateway from Yonge to Bayview with multiple big box stores lining the south side. “Old” Langstaff Road remained, but the access was moved south of Hwy. 7 off Yonge Street.

The ever changing Langstaff Corners continues to have huge pressure on it. The Ontario government has announced its intention to increase population density through its proposed “transit oriented community” (TOC) — planned developments in the areas located on both sides of Hwy. 407 at Yonge Street — a new skyline will appear. In the Toronto Star on April 16, 2022, Ontario Infrastructure Minister Kinga Surma was quoted as saying “a TOC is a place where people will wake up in the morning, take an elevator down, perhaps drop off their child at daycare, access a (transit) station, go to work, come back home on transit and pick up something for dinner at a local grocery store.” Langstaff Corners will be developed for this new purpose.

Photograph of John Langstaff - Early Days of Richmond Hill
John Langstaff – Early Days of Richmond Hill

Such is the future of the corner where Toll Gate No. 3 stood for the purpose of collecting tolls to improve a very early Yonge Street — the gateway to the north. It will take years for this plan to come to fruition, but the ongoing history of “Langstaff Corners” continues …

-Andrea Kulesh is the vice-president with the Richmond Hill Historical Society