Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Mimico Beach Estates

This is the story of the Mimico Beach Estates. Growing up in Mimico I was often amazed and astonished by the remnants of the many large estates that used to line the waterfront of this former town. There was little information available on these estates and the people who lived in them. Some information was available in Harvey Currell's The Mimico Story published as a history of the town at the same time as it was being forced to amalgamate with the Borough of Etobicoke in 1967, but it was very brief. I had the appetite for more. So over the last 20 years I have been researching the fascinating people and their estates.  The ultimate goal is to create a richly illustrated book on the Mimico Beach Estates.

The Pioneers

Mimico began to look attractive to city dwellers as early as the mid 1870s when a nucleus of suburban cottage development began. These early pioneers occupied large lakefront estates south of the Lake Shore Road. The first three estates were established in 1875 by William Irving, a prominent Toronto architect, W.H. Sparrow and William Hewitt, successful Toronto merchants. John Kay followed a few years later.  However, with the construction of the streetcar line along the Lake Shore Road in the early 1890s the area became more accessible to Toronto. Many wealthy families began to move into the area to establish large lakefront estates. The area became a popular location and developers moved in to purchase farmland and subdivide it into new residential communities. In 1904 the Grand Trunk Railway established its westerly marshalling yards nearby and the area boomed.  By 1905 the population reached over 300 and Mimico gained status as a Police Village, giving the population limited autonomy from the Township of Etobicoke. The population rose to over 800 by 1911 when the community gained independence from Etobicoke Township as a full fledged Village, and then a Town in 1917. The community remained independent until 1967 when the provincial government forced it to amalgamate with the Borough of Etobicoke. Though many of the former lakefront estates were demolished and replaced by apartment developments in the 1950s and 1960s, a few of the grand houses remain.

Continued Threats

However many of them are vulnerable to loss. In the 1990s the Jessie Applegath House was demolished. Others are currently vacant and their future uncertain. 

The Charles Ring House was demolished in May 2011, and the John McBride House was demolished in December 2013.

Some of the homes have been listed by the former Etobicoke Historical Board but most have not been designated under the Ontario Heritage Act. Those which are listed are still vulnerable. Many of these homes deserve the additional protections that come from being designated under the Ontario Heritage Act. Many are architecturally and historically significant. 

Consideration could also be given to including what is left of the estates as part of a Heritage Conservation District. The creation of one of more Heritage Conservation District(s) in Mimico would follow the example of other well known residential areas in Toronto such as Cabbagetown, Wynchwood Park, Rosedale, Riverdale, Yorkville and others.  Each has a deep history.  

Designation as one or more Heritage Conservation Districts would provide protection of the heritage resource and certainty for existing owners that the homes on neighbouring lots would remain and not be developed with townhouses or condominiums.

In 2012, the city of Toronto undertook a heritage study as part of the Mimico by-the-lake Secondary Plan which included a good chunk of the Mimico Beach area.  It was an excellent start and many important heritage buildings were identified that require further study.  However the study area did not include the area west of Miles Road and so did not look at the majority of the Mimico Beach estate homes still standing.  As already noted there have been a number of losses in this area over the last few years.  

There have also been some successes.  The Fetherstonhaugh Gardener's Cottage was designated under the Ontario Heritage Act in 2011 and will be with us for many years to come, and the highly significant Ormsby/Franceschini Estate was designated under the Ontario Heritage Act in the fall of 2013. 

Do you have information or photos of the Mimico Beach Estates? If so I would love to hear from you. 

Are you interested in keeping up to date on heritage issues in Mimico by being added to a heritage email list?

I can be reached at mimicohistory at
All information and photographs on this site are copyrighted and may not be used without my permission.
© Copyright Michael Harrison 2010. All rights reserved.
(originally posted April 23, 2010)

William Common Estate - 2635 Lake Shore Blvd. West.

William Common House - 2635 Lake Shore Blvd West
© Michael Harrison 2010

This large home at 2635 Lake Shore Blvd West was built for William Belmont Common in 1938.  It had a major addition to it in the 1990s which seems to have obliterated many of the original features of the house except for a bit of the front facade.

William Belmont Common was the son of William Common and Lucy Lang and was born in London, England in 1899.  This family immigrated to Canada in 1905.

They lived in Quebec and later in Peterborough before moving to Toronto.  William Belmont Common joined the Royal Flying Corps in the First World War.  After the war he attended Osgoode Law School, graduating in 1923.

In 1925 he married Eunice Watt in Toronto and had two children.

He practices law for a number of year before joining the Ontario Attorney General's department in 1926.

His first wife died in 1931 and he married his second wife Mona Margaret Shirley in 1935.

In 1957 he was appointed as Deputy Attorney General in Ontario and held the position until 1964.

In 1963 as Chairman of the Joint Committee on Legal Aid he proposed a system of legal aid for Ontario, thus becoming the father of Ontario's legal aid system.

He retired in 1964 but instead of living a quiet life on his estate he took on new challenges as the Chief Election Officer of Ontario and was appointed the Clerk of the Ontario Legislature.  He finally retired in 1971.

He died on April 3, 1984 at the age of 84 and is buried in Orangeville.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Herbert P. Ritchie Estate - 10 Miles Road

Hebert P. Ritchie House - 10 Miles Road
 © Michael Harrison 2012

This fine home was built circa 1910 for Herbert P. Ritchie and his wife Mary Hay.  It was originally at the end of a long 77 foot wide lot which extended down from the Lake Shore Road.

Herbert P. Ritchie was born in Ontario in 1881.  His father John Ritchie Jr. was born in Scotland in 1849, immigrated to Canada, and was a real estate agent in Toronto.  He was married to Lilliam Dunn.  Both parents died young.  Lillian died in 1890 of tuberculosis.  John died in 1891 of pneumonia.  This left their five children as orphans.  The eldest John was 15 years old in 1891.  Herbert was only 10 years of age and Edith, the youngest, was 8.

In the 1901 census Herbert and his sisters Irene and Edith are boarding in a house owned by Mary Lowery.

On November 17, 1909 Herbert married Mary Elizabeth Hay, daughter of Robert Hay, grain buyer, in Toronto.

According to the 1914 Toronto City directory, Ritchie owned H.P. Ritchie and Company, a lace importing and manufacturing company at 38-42 Clifford Street (now part of Richmond Street West).  His city home was nearby at 185 Crawford Street.  Later he moved to a more substantial home at 56 Health Street West.

The Ritchies continued to own their Mimico Beach estate until 1926 when they sold it to Arthur W. Miles for $6000 who then incorporated into Miles Park. 

In 1952 the property was acquired by Peter Del Greco who built apartments on the majority of the lot.  The portion of the lot containing the house was severed from the main lot and access was provided from Miles Road.  The address then became 10 Miles Road.

The house is listed under the Ontario Heritage Act, and remains one of the few remaining original homes in this portion of the Mimico Beach estates. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

John McBride Estate - 2621 Lake Shore Blvd West - DEMOLISHED

John McBride House - 2621 Lake Shore Blvd West
© Michael Harrison 2008

The large house at 2621 Lake Shore Blvd West was built circa 1927 for John McBride.

John McBride was the son of John McBride and Hannah Cuttell and was born in 1872.  On June 17, 1896 he was married to Ada Grace Libby and they would have three children:  Harold (b. 1897), Maud (b. 1898) and Ada (b. 1900).  His wife Ada died in 1916 of a cerebral hemorrhage.

He was a first cousin of Sam McBride, a two time Mayor of Toronto serving his first term in 1928-1929 and his second in 1936.  Sam McBride died on November 10, 1936, becoming the first sitting Toronto mayor to die in office.

John McBride ran a successful fruit importing business on Church Street in Toronto.

In 1927 he purchased a lakefront lot on the Lake Shore Road and built the home that he would live in for the rest of his life.  He died there on August 5, 1953 at the age of 82 years.  He is buried in Prospect Cemetery.

In 1955 the house was sold by his estate to Arthur and Margaret Mercer.  I had the opportunity to talk to Mrs. Mercer in the mid 1990s.

She must have passed away a few years ago as the house was sold.  A demolition permit was approved by the Etobicoke-York Community Council in 2008.  The future of the house is uncertain.  Hopefully the owners will see the value in renovating this handsome and impressive house.

Update - December 18, 2013

City staff just confirmed that the John McBride House has been demolished.  Another loss of a historic Mimico Beach estate home.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cork Estate - DEMOLISHED

The other founder of Loblaws also had an estate in Mimico Beach. 

John Milton Cork was born in Picton, Ontario in 1870 but the family soon moved to Toronto where his father William opened a grocery store on King Street.  He grew up in the business and became a friend of Theodore Pringle Loblaw when he worked for this father.  Working together they created the self serve grocery store that would make them both wealthy men.  Cork's genius was the creation of the distribution system that would ensure that the Loblaw stores worked at peak capacity and maximum profitability.

He established his Mimico Beach estate in the late 1910s.  His estate was between those of Colonel Harry McGee and Thomas Goldring.

He was married to Adelaide Apted and had three children (2 sons and one daughter).  Adelaide died in 1928 and he married Lillian Bates in New York City in February 1933.  While he was on his honeymoon in the Caribbean Loblaw died on March 31, 1933 and he had to rush back to Toronto.

After the death of Loblaw, Cork became the president of Loblaw's and chairman of the board.  He remained with the company until he sold his stock to the Weston family in 1947.

Cork sold the estate to the bandleader Luigi Romanelli in 1941. The estate was the last one to be built on in Mimico and remained until 1963.  I have heard that the owner at that time offered to sell it to the Town of Mimico for parkland but that the town turned him down.  

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Beamish Estate - DEMOLISHED

Just to the west of the Ogden Estate was the estate of John Richard Beamish. Beamish was born in Kent County, Ontario in 1868. He later moved to Toronto and started a barber shop. In 1892 he would marry Elizabeth Patterson. Two children followed: Joseph in 1893 and Lorine in 1904. Tragically, Lorine would die in 1908 from diphtheria.

Beamish established his barber shop business at 7 Richmond Street East and grew it into the "largest barbershop in Canada". He seems to have done quite well. From more humble abodes in the downtown core, he was living in Rosedale by 1911.  In 1921 he is listed in the Toronto city directory as living at Mimico Beach but seems to have also had a home in the Parkdale area of the city.

Later in life he turned to politics.  In 1916 he was first elected to Toronto City Council as an alderman for Ward 2 and would be reelected an additional 19 times before he was defeated in 1936.  On June 1, 1937 he died at his home at 130 Tyndall Avenue.  The entire City Council attended his funeral at Cooke's Presbyterian Church.

In 1926 John Beamish sold the estate to Dr. John R Serson and his wife Lillian for $25,000.  Dr. Serson, a well known surgeon at both Grace and St. Joseph Hospitals died in 1939.  His widow Lillian Serson remained in the house until 1945 when she sold it to William Pryde.  Pryde flipped the estate in 1946 to Henry Woolmer.    The Woolmers remained until 1951 when Henry died and his wife Ethel sold the estate to Cecilia Chisholm.  

The house remained until about 1961 when it was acquired by developers who also purchased the adjacent Ogden estate and demolished both houses to make way for the Landmark apartment complex.

Monday, March 14, 2011


John Kay is described in The Mimico Story as Mimico's first commuter.  Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, he emigrated to Canada, first to Montreal and later Toronto.  In the late 1870s he bought five acres of land on the waterfront, establishing what would later become one of the larger Mimico Beach estates.

The Kays were a prominent family in Mimico taking on many leadership positions in the community and the family would remain on the estate into the early 20th century.

The estate would be sold in 1947.   The West Point Motor Hotel and Restaurant was built on the site in 1952.  It catered to the many tourists that visited Toronto, and was comprised of several buildings.  The restaurant, which included a venue for live music, was located along Lake Shore Blvd West.  It included a "diner" just within the front door with a more formal restaurant space to the back and in the basement.  Further behind and closer to the lake were the three motel buildings with plenty of parking in between.

In the early 1980s the Grand Harbour condominium complex was built on the site.

Bethfield - Odgen Estate - DEMOLISHED

The Odgen Estate was established about 1900 by Albert Ogden and his second wife Esther Herdman.

Albert Ogden was born in 1847 in Peel County, and was the son of William and Rebecca Ward.  Albert grew up on the family farm but attended Toronto Collegiate Institute and then law school.  He was called to the bar in 1876 and worked at a number of Toronto firms before becoming a partner in McMichael, Hoskin and Odgen in the 1880s.  Following Mr. Hoskin's death Albert practiced alone for several years before entering into a partnership with Mr. Bowlby.  They had their offices at 23 Toronto Street.

Albert was the long-time solicitor for the Salvation Army where he looked after the legal affairs of the organization first in Toronto and later the entire country.  He was a leader in the Queen Street Methodist Church, later moving to the Eaton Memorial Church.

Mr. Ogden's first wife was Mary Leadley with whom he had six children.  She died in 1895 and he married his second wife Esther Herdman the following year and had two more children.  Albert died in 1921.  Esther remarried in 1923 to Ebenezer Brock Lauceley.

Their Mimico Beach estate remained until about 1961 when The Landmark apartment complex at 2493 Lake Shore Blvd West was built on the estate.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bonnyview - Loblaw Estate - DEMOLISHED

Theodore Pringle Loblaw, one of the founders of Loblaws, and known as the "Merchant Prince" established his Mimico Beach Estate in the 1920s when he purchased the Eaton estate.  He must have been a frequent guest at the nearby estate of his partner John Milton Cork and decided to acquire a summer home for himself.

Theodore Pringle "TP" Loblaw was born in Alliston in 1872, son of William James Loblaw and Isabella Stevenson.  His father died when he was an infant and his widowed mother moved in with her parents.  When he was 17 years old he came to Toronto and began working as a grocery clerk with W.C. Cork Ltd earning $3 a week.  With his first savings, Loblaw bought an interest in the store.  He formed a partnership with John Milton Cork and by 1910 they owned and operated  a chain of 19 small stores.  They soon sold the chain to the Dominion Stores Company.  It was then that he first came up with the idea of the cash and carry system that would make him famous and wealthy.  Prior to this groceries were bought with the help of clerks behind the counter.  In 1919 he began Loblaws Groceterias with the moto of "Cash, one price and satisfaction guaranteed". 

He soon followed with other innovations such as specialty products only available at Loblaw stores such as High Park Coffee, and its own Loblaw brands of tea.  

TP was generous with his wealth and was well known for his philanthropy.   

He married his wife Isabella Adam in 1895.  She died on May 27, 1930 of heart failure brought on by pneumonia at the farm in Alliston - she was buried in the family plot in Alliston Cemetery.  

Tragedy struck when TP died in Western Hospital from complications following a minor operation on March 31, 1933.  His funeral was held at Timothy Eaton Memorial Church on April 4, 1933 after which the body was transported to Alliston where he was buried beside his wife in the family plot in Alliston Cemetery.  He was survived by an adopted daughter Jean Agnes Loblaw and three foster sons Alexander, John and James Burr-Loblaw.  

In May 1933 the will was probated and valued at $2,196,301.  The Bonnyview estate in Mimico was bequeathed to his daughter Jean. 

Jean Loblaw sold the Mimico Estate to Mr. Franceschini in 1934.  Weston Limited purchased Loblaws in 1947.

The property was developed in the 1950s with apartments along the Lake Shore Road (currently Lake Shore Blvd. West) and sixplexes along a new street - Norris Crescent.

Eaton Estate - DEMOLISHED

Robert Wellington Eaton was born in St. Mary's on March 16, 1864, son of Robert Eaton, a brother of Timothy Eaton, founder of The Eaton Department Store.  

In 1891 he came to Toronto to accept a position in the T. Eaton Co.  RW was a worker Eaton and not an owner Eaton.  He had no ownership stake in the company.  He rose through the ranks eventually becoming a member of the Board of Directors and the company's Superintendant.  In addition to his city home on Farnham Avenue, and their Mimico Beach estate, he also had an estate in Muskoka.  He was very involved in sports and was an active member of the Granite Club, the Royal Canadian Yacht Club, the Lambton Golf and Country Club, and the Parkdale Canoe Club.  He was also a member of the Canadian Club and the Board of Trade, which he served in an executive capacity, and was a Director of the Canadian National Exhibition.  He was a Director of the Standard Bank until its amalgamation with the Canadian Bank of Commerce in 1928.  

On May 2, 1930 he died at his Farnham Avenue home and was laid to rest in the Eaton Mausoleum in Mount Pleasant Cemetery.  He was survived by his widow Lilly and his daughter Mildred.  He was predeceased by his daughter Margaret who died six years previously and a son who died in infancy.

Eaton sold his Mimico Beach estate to Theodore Pringle Loblaw in the 1920s.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Lynne Lodge - Fetherstonhaugh Estate - GARDENER'S COTTAGE SAVED

Lynne Lodge
courtesy of the Canadian Architect and Builder, 1899

One of Mimico's most fabulous estates, it was built by Frederick Barnard Fetherstonhaugh, a pioneer patent attorney, who was born in Bruce County in 1863, went to law school and got rich satisfying the need for patent protection of the many technological innovations of the late 19th and early 20th century.  Along the way he founded Fetherstonhaugh and Company, a patent law firm with offices around the world (which still exists today).  Mr. Fetherstonhaugh built the first electric car in Canada and established his estate in Mimico in 1899.  The main house "Lynne Lodge" was designed by Henry Sproatt, and a few years later was joined by "The Towers", Mimico's only castle folly.

The Towers 
courtesy of the Toronto Reference Library, JV Salmon Collection, T-33699

The divorce settlement from his second wife resulted in the loss of his company and fortune.  In the end, he lived in his decaying estate with a number of strangers who it is alleged, took advantage of a sick old man and stole what was left of the estate.  He died virtually penniless in 1945.

Fetherstonhaugh Boathouse
courtesy of the Archives of Ontario, C7, Acc 9912, Vol 7, page 46, #22249-A

The former estate is now covered by apartment buildings, with only the Gardener's Cottage and Boathouse, and a few landscaping elements remaining to give one a sense of the grandeur of the Fetherstonhaugh Estate.

Gardener's Cottage, 2011
courtesy of Denise Harris

In February 2011 when I discovered that the owner of the Gardener's Cottage was seeking to demolish it I requested that the City of Toronto designate it, the Boathouse and remaining landscaping elements of the estate under the Ontario Heritage Act.  At its meeting on February 16, 2011 the Etobicoke-York Community Council deferred consideration of the demolition application until May 2011 in order to allow Heritage Preservation staff adequate time to review my designation request.

Toronto Preservation Board - May 5, 2011

On May 2, 2011 the agenda for the Toronto Preservation Board meeting of May 5, 2011 was posted online.  I received the following notice from the city of Toronto:

Please be advised that the Toronto Preservation Board will consider the above noted matter at its meeting scheduled for Thursday, May 5th, at Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen Street West, Committee Room #2, Second Floor at 2:00 p.m.  Toronto Preservation Board meetings are open to the public, and you or your representatives are welcome to speak or write in to this body. 

If you would like to depute at the Board meeting, please contact Margaret Sexton of the Clerk's Department at 416-392-6316 or email her at with your name, address and telephone number and the item in which you are interested.

Link to Report:

Below is my submission to the Toronto Preservation Board:
The recommendation from Toronto planning staff that the Gardener's Cottage be designated under the Ontario Heritage Act was adopted by the Toronto Preservation Board at its meeting of May 5, 2011.  The report will now proceed to the Etobicoke-York Community Council meeting of May 25, 2011 for consideration.  I will post more on this when the agenda for the meeting becomes available on the City of Toronto website.  Letters/emails of support for Etobicoke-York Community Council to adopt the recommendation would be very helpful.  

Etobicoke-York Community Council - May 25, 2011

The agenda for the May 25, 2011 Etobicoke-York Community Council has now been posted online. The Fetherstonhaugh Gardener's Cottage item is item EY7.5: (May 25, 10:30 AM) Intention to Designate under Part IV, Section 29 of the Ontario Heritage Act – 2669-2673 Lake Shore Boulevard West (Ward 6) 

You will note a letter from the owner's lawyer is also posted online right after the report. Deputations are listed to begin at 10:30am. Deputations and/or written submissions would be most helpful. They should be addressed to: Councillor Mark Grimes, Chair, and Members of Etobicoke-York Community Council and can be emailed to If you could also send me a copy that would be appreciated (mimicohistory at

Below is a copy of my submission:
At the meeting the item was deferred again.  This time until the Etobicoke-York Community Council meeting of September 12, 2011.

Further information can be found in the article appearing the next day in the Etobicoke Guardian:

Etobicoke-York Community Council - September 12, 2011

Consideration of the recommendation to designate the Gardener's Cottage under the Ontario Heritage Act will occur at the September 12, 2011 meeting of Etobicoke-York Community Council.  

I am pleased to inform you that the following recommendation will be proceeding to the September 12, 2011 Etobicoke-York Community Council meeting:

The City Planning Division recommends that:

1. Recommendation 2 of Item EY7.5 - Intention to Designate under Part IV, Section 29,of the Ontario Heritage Act - 2669-2673 Lake Shore Boulevard West (deferred by Etobicoke York Community Council May 25, 2011), be amended to read:  City Council state its intention to designate that portion of the properties at 2669-2673 Lakeshore Boulevard West (Gardener's Cottage, Fetherstonhaugh Estate) described as Part of Lots 540 and 541, Plan M-76 and Part of Lot 1, Broken Front Concession, City of Toronto, as shown outlined on the attached survey (Attachment 1), under Part IV, Section 29 of the Ontario Heritage Act.
The staff report can be viewed here:

The survey can be viewed here:

Thank you everyone for your letters of support on this issue.  Toronto City Council approved the recommendation on September 21, 2011.  As a result the Fetherstonhaugh Gardener's Cottage will be designated under the Ontario Heritage Act in the near future and hopefully be with us for many years to come.

Quidi Vidi - Horwood Estate - DEMOLISHED

John Charles Batstone "JCB" Horwood was born in Quidi Vidi, Newfoundland on March 19, 1864, the son of  Richard Horwood and Harriet Batstone.  When he was four, his family moved to Toronto where he grew up working in the building trade alongside his father.  In 1882 he began work with the architectural firm of Langley, Langley and Burke where he remained until 1887.  In the early 1890s he went to New York City to work for the firm of Clinton and Russell.  He travelled in Europe in 1894 to study the classical architecture of European cities.  He returned to Toronto in 1895 and entered into a partnership with Edmund Burke, and undertook their first big commission rebuilding the Robert Simpson Store at the south west corner of Yonge and Queen Street, after it burned to the ground.  JCB utilized his knowledge of fire resistent construction obtained in New York City firm of Clinton and Russell during the commission.  The construction of department stores would become a speciality of the firm though they would also be known for their residential designs for many of Toronto's elite families. 

JCB’s son Eric Compton Horwood was born in Toronto in 1900.  The Horwood family established their "Quidi Vidi" estate in Mimico Beach about 1910.  Eric Horwood was educated at the University of Toronto in 1925 and left to continue his education at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris and at the Fontainbleau School of Fine Arts.  He returned to Toronto in 1927 and joined his father's architectural practice.  JCB died in 1938, leaving an estate valued at $52,365.  Eric Horwood would continue to live at the waterfront estate until 1958 when he sold it for apartment development and moved to nearby Stanley Avenue.  He continued in architectural practice until his retirement in 1974.  

In 1979, he donated a collection of over 35,000 architectural plans representing more than 1,500 structures from fifty-four architects spanning a period of 150 years to the Archives of Ontario where it remains an invaluable research collection.

Jermyn Estate - DEMOLISHED

One of the largest estates on the Mimico waterfront, it was established in the mid 1890s by Mr. Thomas John Jermyn.  Mr. Jermyn was born in Ireland in 1846 and emigrated to Canada in 1864.  In 1870 he began as a cashier with Brock and Company, a Toronto drygoods wholesaler, and later rose to be Vice-President with headquarters at Bay and Wellington.  His city home was at 314 Sherbourne Street, across from Allan Gardens.  Jermyn died on April 12, 1904 days before the company's head office and warehouse burned to the ground in the Great Toronto Fire of April 19-20, 1904 which destroyed the city's business center.  The Jermyn family stayed on in Mimico Beach for some time and it was a favourite summertime haunt.  Percy Jermyn, Thomas' son, was often seen dashing about the waterfront in his sailing boat the "Nancy" practising for the annual regatta.

The Jermyn family later sold the property to Thomas H. Goldring.  Goldring was the son of Thomas Goldring and Flora McDonald, and was born in Toronto in 1877.  Goldring owned the estate for a short time beginning in 1919.  Thomas H. Goldring died in 1931 at which time the estate was acquired by the West family.

Louis J. West
courtesy of The Mimico Story

Louis J. West was born in London, England in 1872 and emigrated to Canada with his parents when he was a small child.  He was educated at Toronto and later founded the brokerage firm of Louis J. West and Company.  He moved to Mimico in 1905 where he took an active part in the incorporation of Mimico as a police village.  In 1919 he was elected Mayor of the town and held the post for two years.  He was one of the founders, and one time president of the Toronto Stock Exchange.  He retired from his brokerage firm in 1931 and died at his Mimico Beach home on October 3, 1936, leaving an estate valued at over $395,000.  The West family continued to live at the estate until it was sold to the Peckover family in 1945.  The Peckover family sold it to John Hamm and his wife Evelyn Pearl Bedford in 1947.  John was originally a journalist with the Mail and Empire but later appears to have turned his hand to the building of quality homes in some of Toronto's best neighbourhoods.  Hamm lived on the estate and also developed a small apartment along the Lake Shore Road frontage.  He sold the estate for apartment development in 1959.  Today the twin Shoreline Towers apartment blocks are built on the site of the estate.

William Inglis Estate - DEMOLISHED

William Inglis was the son of John Inglis, founder of the John Inglis Company Limited, manufacturer of boilers, engines and pumps.  The Inglis family, originally from Scotland, emigrated to Canada in the early 1850s.  They moved in 1858 to Guelph, establishing their business.  John Inglis died in 1898.  

William Inglis was born in Guelph on October 20, 1868.  As a youth he began to learn the machinists trade from this father, later joining his father in the business - renamed John Inglis and Sons.  The business was moved to Toronto in 1895 and established at 14 Strachan Avenue.  William Inglis  was married to Bertha Hewett on December 19, 1898 and they had one daughter, Margaret.

Inglis established his estate in the 1910s.  He originally owned a small 50 foot lot but later acquired the much larger estate owned by Isaac Newton Devins.  When he acquired the old Devins estate Inglis engaged JCB Horwood to design a grand mansion for the property but later settled for the renovation and expansion of the existing house.

Their main Toronto residence was originally at 153 St. George Street.  Later they moved to a large mansion in Parkdale and then permanently to their Mimico waterfront estate.  

William Inglis was a member of the best clubs including the Toronto Engineers Club, the Royal Canadian Yacht Club, the Lakeview Golf and Country Club, the Ontario Jockey Club and the Parkdale Curling and Bowling Clubs.  He was a member of the Board of Trade and an executive member of the Canadian Manufacturer's Association.  He was appointed a Director of the Canadian National Exhition in 1925 and in 1933 was elected President.  The foundry was a profitable business.  Even when the Great Depression hit in 1929 business was still good with many orders on the books - particularly from the government.  However, as the Depression dragged on into 1932 the situation became more serious.  The business suffered its first loss and sales were virtually non-existant, especially from the private sector.  Mr. Inglis' attempts to solicit further business from government failed.  The stress on senior management was unbearable and many senior company officials died suddenly in 1935-1936 including William Inglis who passed away on November 18, 1935.  Toronto Mayor Simpson stated that " The city has lost a fine citizen, with a personality which earned for him a host of friends.  He was liked by all who had dealings with him.  He was an outstanding business man."  To commemorate Mr. Inglis, the island ferry recently delivered to the City of Toronto was renamed the William Inglis - it continues to serve the islands today.  The company went into receivership in 1936 and the factory closed.  It would later be resurrected but the family was no longer connected with it.

Mrs. Inglis continued to live at the estate after the death of her husband.  After it passed out of the hands of the family it became a tea house until it too was demolished as part of the post WWII building boom in Toronto in 1954.  The Franroy Court apartments were built on the site.  

Kilcooley - Colonel Harry McGee Estate - DEMOLISHED

The son of Thomas McGee and Rachel Webster, Harry McGee was born on September 20, 1861 in Renamore, County Tipperary, Ireland.  He came to Canada in 1882, staying with his brother Jim in Blyth, Ontario.  He got a job at the Golden Griffin in Toronto shortly thereafter but quit to work for Timothy Eaton in August 1883 at a starting salary of $6 per week.  He quickly worked his way up the corporate ladder from general staff to the head of a department, and then general supervisor of several departments.  He was made a director of the Eaton Company in 1906 and a year later was made Vice-President.  He was put in charge of Eaton's expansion plans and supervised the construction of the Eaton's store in Winnipeg, and then other stores across the country.  In 1928 to celebrate his 45th anniversary with Eaton's he was presented with many gifts including a Rolls Royce.  In 1892 he married Nellie McBride and they had one daughter, Isobel.  Colonel McGee took a great interest in agriculture and had a large farm in Etobicoke which he called Harnibel.  He died at his home in Forest Hill in 1939 leaving an estate of $1.2 million.  His Mimico Beach estate later became Kilcooley Gardens and operated for a number of years as a restaurant and reception hall before it was demolished for apartment blocks in 1957.  The property at 2345 Lake Shore Boulevard West is currently home to the Kilcooley Gardens Co-op.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Miles Park - Miles Road

Miles Park straddled both sides of present day Miles Road down to Lake Ontario.  Miles Park was the creation of Arthur Miles.   Miles was born in Toronto in 1873. He originally worked on a dairy farm before leaving for South Africa in 1894 to seek his fortune in the gold fields of South Africa. Within a few years he obtained a senior position with the Crown Deep Mine Company owned by Paul Kruger.

He returned to Toronto in 1900 and founded A.W. Miles Company, Undertakers, setting up the first funeral chapel in Toronto and modernizing the undertaking business in Canada. He introduced the first motorized hearse and handled the funeral of many of Canada's most notable statesmen and citizens including Prime Minister Mackenzie King, Sir William Mulock, Sir Joseph Flavelle, Sir Henry Pellatt and Sir William Hearst to name a few.

He established his 3 acre lakefront estate in Mimico in 1912 complete with a private zoo. The zoo was established on the north side of the street and included birds, monkeys, ostriches, horses, donkeys, camels and an elephant. On the south side of the street was the pleasure grounds including a dancing pavilion, picnic area, snack building and a baseball diamond. The Park was open to the public for use by all.  Many community and church groups availed themselves of Mr. Miles' hospitality.  At the foot of the street he built a large "U" shaped wooden pier into the lake which held a number of decorative swans.

At the foot on the street on the south side he built his large home at 11 Miles Road. Mr. Miles was generous with his good fortune, and the grounds were open to the public free of charge. Many organizations availed themselves of his warm hospitality over the years. However, as the Town of Mimico grew, complaints about the smell of the zoo grew in number. In the early 1930s Mimico Council asked him to consider leaving. Reluctantly, he left and purchased a large 200 acre estate in Erindale, to which he was able to move the zoo animals.

Hunter Estate - 10 Lake Cres.

Hunter Estate - 10 Lake Cres
© Michael Harrison 2010

One of largest estates in terms of acreage was the Hunter Estate at 10 Lake Crescent. 

The Hunter Estate was built in 1899 by William Howard Hunter, a Toronto lawyer, in the "English Tudor" style. The large estate of a little over 4 acres extended along the Lake Shore Road from Lake Crescent down to the lake. A small boathouse was built on the lake. In 1912 Hunter sold the estate to Mr. McKelvie, a developer from St. Catherines for $30,000 who subdivided the property into 20 lots and introduced a new street "Island View Blvd." closer to the lake.

In 1915 Harry Hornell, a clothing manufacturer from Toronto purchased the main house . He was the father of David Hornell, who won the Victoria Cross in 1945. The house was later converted into four apartments.