MAPPING TORONTO'S FIRST CENTURY 1787 - 1884
A Souvenir of the opening of the exhibition on January 12, 1984. Prepared by the Royal Ontario Museum and the University of Toronto Library with the assistance of the Community Relations Office, University of Toronto.
ESTABLISHMENT: 1787-1820 "...the town has a mixed appearance of city and country." R. Gourlay, Statistical Account of Upper Canada, 1822 (based on surveys made 1817-1819)
Toronto was founded in the wilderness of Upper Canada to serve two purposes. As a military post, it defended British territory against the newly independent United States. It was also an administrative-centre, the capital of the new province of Upper Canada. Decisions made at this time established the framework for all later urban development and many of the features created are still visible today. Mapping of Toronto Begins
The maps of this period show the steps that made possible the planting of a European settlement at Toronto and illustrate the way in which Toronto developed in its early years. Since the community was essentially a government centre, these initial plans and surveys. were made by government surveyors to prepare for orderly settlement or by military engineers for purposes of defence. . Such maps were not printed, but prepared and copied by hand.
* The Purchase of Land, 1787
This map shows the boundaries of the Toronto Purchase, an area transferred to Crown ownership by a treaty negotiated between the British and the resident Indians in 1787. Such treaties established clear British title to lands needed for the resettlement of Loyalist refugees from the American Revolution. The future site of Toronto was covered by thick forest. Note that the surveyor used a tree as one of his survey markers.
The trail marked is the "Toronto Portage" which connected Lake Ontario to the Holland River and Lake Simcoe; the route had long been used by Indians and fur traders.
The area labelled "Toronto" marks the site of the French trading fort abandoned 30 years earlier. The ruins, today near the bandshell in the CNE grounds, have recently been excavated.
"Toronto Purchase in 1787"
* A Plan for the Town, 1788
This earliest detailed proposal for the town the British planned to build near the natural harbour was never laid out as it was too large and elaborate for a pioneer community. It was also applied to the site with little regard for its natural features.
This plan is similar to the model plan, authorized by Governor Lord Dorchester the following year, for townsites in townships fronting on water. The mile square town was surrounded by a government and military reserve on the waterfront and by a public common. Beyond this were 24-acre "town. parks" for the private use of some residents of the town.
* Establishing the Baseline for York Township, 1791
This important survey by Augustus Jones established the eastern sideline (now Victoria Park Avenue) and the baseline (now Queen Street) for Dublin (York) Township. The township lines formed the basic framework for all later development and thus determined the eventual northwest-southeast orientation of Toronto. The survey recorded here began 90 miles east of Toronto at the Bay of Quinte and laid out the fronts of 11 townships between there and York. Wherever possible, the baselines of townships were laid out parallel to the lake shore.
The Town of York Laid Out, 1793
Aitken also surveyed the harbour and peninsula, and this map contains the first accurate depiction of the peninsula, the marsh, and the rivers and streams along the shoreline.
The York Township Survey
Concessions and Lots
Several designs were used for townships in Ontario, but all were based on rectangular township lots laid out in rows called concessions. The concessions were separated by road allowances. In York, the first three concessions north of the baseline (Queen Street) were surveyed in 1793 into 200-acre lots, with a sideroad allowance after every fifth lot. The concession roads and sideroads formed blocks 1k miles square, and became the main arterial streets as the city grew.. To maximize access to major water routes, the 1793 lots were oriented north-south near the lake and east-west near the Humber and Don rivers. The first three concessions were parallel to the lake and numbered north from it, but the remaining concessions, surveyed between 1796 and 1798, were based on Yonge Street. There, concession numbering, lot orientation, and the shape of the lots and blocks were all influenced by the already established route of that important highway.
In a township fronting on a body of water, the partial lots between the shoreline and the baseline made up the broken front. In York Township much of this area was reserved for government and military use, thus placing the original townsite and its early extensions under government control.
An unusual feature of the York Township survey was the lengthwise bisection of lots 17 to 32 in Concession I to form 100-acre park lots. These were granted to officials settling in the Town of York, the new capital of Upper Canada.
Yonge Street was designed to provide a direct military and trade route to Holland Landing, a line that was at an angle to the orientation of the York Township grid.
* First Extensions to the Town, 1796 & 1797
Surveys in 1796 and 1797 extended the town north to Lot (Queen) Street, west to York Street, and then west again to Peter Street. The blocks and lots of the New Town were much larger than those of the original town. An important focus for municipal activities was provided by setting aside blocks between the Old and New towns for public buildings. The St. Lawrence Market and St. James Cathedral still occupy the sites allotted to market and church.
In an attempt to prevent speculation, each person was allowed only one lot in the New Town. Note, however, that members of one family often held adjoining lots - a legal method of acquiring a large block of land for later resale.
David William Smith
David William Smith
* The Slow Pace of Development, 1801
Progress in clearing and in building was slow in the New Town. In September of 1800, owners were ordered to clear their land or forfeit their lots. As this survey shows, most owners had complied (lots in blue). Those failing to do so owned the less desirable lots (in black) farther from the lake.
* A Plan for the Government Reserve in the East End, 1811
In 1811 the reserved land from Parliament Street to the Don River was still undeveloped. Originally it had been intended as a site for a naval dockyard, then for government buildings. In 1811 the government decided to divide the area into the.-acre lots shown here, which would be leased. The low annual rental values (in red ink) assigned by Wilmot during his survey show his poor opinion of the lots. The plan was never implemented. In 1819 the area was granted to the new hospital (forerunner of Toronto General Hospital) to provide it with a source of income.
Note that King Street angled to the north in order to cross the Don River at a good bridging point - a path which it still follows.
Samuel S. Wilmot
The Early Surveyors
The early surveyors were a small group of government employees who, under very difficult conditions, made the surveys of townships, townsites, and roads, so that settlement in Upper Canada could commence in an orderly manner.
For each survey, the Surveyor-General issued instructions which indicated the point where the survey was. to begin and the locations and bearings. of previously surveyed lines. The instructions also covered the dimensions of lots and road allowances and the planting of boundary posts.
The surveyor was required to keep careful field notes indicating each step of the survey and to record all measurements, as well as information on soils, types of trees, rivers, swamps, potential mill sites, squatters, and so on.
On completion of the survey, the surveyor was required to prepare a plan at one inch to 20 or to 40 chains, and to turn this in to the Surveyor-General along with his field notes. Many of the plans were later used to record the names of the settlers to whom land was allotted.
The basic instruments used by the surveyor were a circumferentor compass for sighting along the surveyed line, and a Gunter's chain for measuring the line (100 links in 1 chain equals 66 feet). A few surveyors had better instruments, such as a theodolite, which could be used for measuring horizontal and vertical angles.
There were many inaccuracies in the early surveys because the instruments were not precise, the terrain was rugged, and there was pressure on the surveyor to complete surveys quickly. In addition, the surveyors were not required to be trained and only some had a background in surveying or a knowledge of mathematics. Augustus Jones (circa 1763-1836) was a Loyalist. He was appointed a Deputy Surveyor in 1791 and was responsible for the survey of most of York Township, Yonge Street, part of Dundas Street, the new part of the town of York, and many townships east of Toronto and in the Hamilton area. He did little surveying after 1799, but retired to his land, marrying the daughter of a chief of the Mohawks.
Alexander Aitken (died 1799) was the son of a land surveyor in Berwick-upon-Tweed, England. He emigrated to Canada and was appointed a Deputy Surveyor in 1784. He prepared one of the first proposals for a town at Toronto for Lord Dorchester and later did many general surveys and maps, including the survey of the Town of York for Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe.
Sir David William Smith (1764-1837) was born in England. He began his career in the military but soon moved into the civil service and became a prominent member of the establishment in Upper Canada. He was a member of the first parliament of Upper Canada and was elected Speaker in 1797. In 1792 he was appointed Surveyor-General of Upper Canada, a post he held until he returned to England in 1804. He was made a baronet in 1821.
James Grant Chewett (1793-1862) was the son of William Chewett, an important early surveyor. James Chewett became a .deputy surveyor in 1819, and was mainly employed in the Surveyor-General's office, serving as Deputy Surveyor-General from 1832 to 1841. He prepared several plans of Toronto and an important map of Upper Canada for the Canada Company in 1826. He retired from government service in 1841 and later became president of the Bank of Toronto.
* The Town During the War of 1812
The War of 1812 resulted in the mapping of York in a different way. In this reconaissance map, the military noted the natural features of the area instead of the survey lines and recorded actual buildings and streets rather than lot lines and road allowances.
Evidence of war is visible in the notation "frigate burnt" (central shoreline), a reference to the Sir Isaac Brock which was burnt to prevent its capture by the Americans. The disappearance of the centre part of the Parliament Buildings (southeast of the Old Town) was also a legacy of the war - it was burnt by the Americans when they captured York in 1813. Most of the scattered and poorly protected buildings of the garrison were also destroyed. '
"Sketch of the ground in advance of and including York Upper Canada"
* Fort York in 1816
After the War of 1812, Fort York was rebuilt to provide quarters for 950 men within a defensive wall. Today's Old Fort York reconstructs the fort of this period.
Note the defensive position of the fort, which was located on a bluff above the lakeshore and protected by Garrison Creek ravine. Later fill has extended the shore and changed the surrounding topography.
The crater at the lakeshore caused by the explosion of the powder. magazine in 1813 is marked by 'd'.
J.B. Duberger Jr./Gustavus Nicolls
The Royal Engineers and Military Map-Makers
The Royal Engineers were stationed in Toronto from the earliest period of British settlement and made reconnaissance sketches and topographical maps for the defense of Toronto as well as plans of the fort and military property. Unlike the civilian surveyors who were primarily concerned with property lines and boundaries, the military were more interested in the shape of the land and location of forested or cleared lands, passable roads, buildings, and other landmarks. Some of their maps of Toronto were the most detailed produced at the time. Most Royal Engineers were trained in surveying and drafting at schools in England, such as the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, The Drawing Room of the Tower of London, and, later, the Royal Military College at Sandhurst. At these schools they learned how to produce a three- dimensional sense of the relief of an area by the use of painting and sketching techniques such as shading and hachuring (the drawing of fine lines close together to indicate the slope).
Gother Mann (1747-1830), a graduate of the Royal Military Academy, commanded the Royal Engineers in Canada from 1785 to 1791 and from 1794 to 1804. Returning to England, he later commanded the whole Corps of Engineers, and ended his career as a general and Inspector General of Fortifications. George Williams was a member of the semi-civilian corps of Royal Military Surveyors and Draughtsmen, a unit set up exclusively for the purpose of making maps and instructing cadets of the Royal Engineers in map-making. George Phillpotts (died 1853) was a lieutenant in the Royal Engineers when he made the fine 1818 map of Toronto. He was appointed aide-de-camp to Sir John Colborne in 1833 and was assistant. Quartermaster General during the 1837 Rebellion.
Sir Richard Henry Bonnycastle (1791-1847) was the son of a professor of mathematics at the Royal Military Academy. He was in command of the Royal Engineers in Upper Canada at Kingston from 1837 to 1839 and was knighted for his services during the Rebellion. He was the author of several books about Canada and an amateur painter. Henry William John Bonnycastle (1814-1888) was his son, and the 1834 map of Toronto that he drew is closely related to the 1833 plan prepared by his father. Educated at Upper Canada College and Sandhurst, he served as a Brigade Major during the 1837 Rebellion.
* The Village in the Clearing, 1818
Although this topographical plan was made by the military to record the overall defensive situation at York, it gives us an excellent picture of the amount of land that had been cleared and built-up by 1818. The Old Town was fairly densely settled, although the grounds around most houses were large enough to accommodate vegetable gardens, poultry, and livestock. Settlement in the New Town was still very sparse.
York was still essentially a village and had grown little since the 1813 map was made, an indication that the area set aside for the town was for many years too big for the population.
To the north of Queen Street the small amount of clearing and settlement followed the streams and the narrow rectangular shape of the park lots.
"...[Toronto] itself is full of life and motion, bustle, business, and
improvement." Charles Dickens, American Notes, 1842 In this period Toronto gradually grew beyond the area of the original town surveys. New areas of building lots were opened up both by the government and by private landowners who subdivided their property. In addition, planning for some urban amenities, such as a university, began.
Map-making for New Purposes
Although military engineers and government surveyors continued to produce maps to meet the military and administrative needs of the government, during this period maps also began to be produced for private landowners who were subdividing their property. Increasingly, surveyors set up their own practices and worked for these private clients.
Multiple copies of maps were needed for a variety of new uses, such as the promotion of land sales or to provide general information about the city. The first printed maps of Toronto therefore appeared, although local efforts were of noticeably poorer quality than maps printed abroad.
* The Site for the University, 1828
King's College Council purchased the site for the University in 1828 and 1829. Since it was a long way from town, land for two tree-lined "College Avenues" was also acquired so that the site could be connected with Yonge Street to the east and Lot (Queen) Street to the south. The avenues and the site remained barriers to through traffic and development until the. late 19th century.
The Sandy Hill shown on the Elmsley property was an important source of sand for roads and building in the early years.
James Grant Chewett/Richard Brassington
* An Eastern Extension to the Town, 1830
The area from Parliament, Street to the Don River formed the first major extension of the town after 1797. The subdivision south of Queen Street shown here was laid out on behalf of the York General Hospital which had been granted the land in 1819.
The names noted are chiefly those of shopkeepers and craftsmen who lived elsewhere in town. Most of them probably-purchased these lots as investments. Note the earlier fields and buildings which were ignored in the new survey. Also note the effect that the diversion of Ring Street to the bridge over the Don River had on the grid plan.
James. Grant Chewett
* A General Military Plan, 1833
This reconnaissance plan is rich in information about the surroundings of the town and the peninsula. By 1833 Fort York was in such disrepair that new fortifications to the west were planned as shown here. Note the horse-powered ferry operating between the docks and the peninsula. The Lawyer's Hall at Lot (Queen) Street and College (University) Avenue is the present Osgoode Hall.
Several plans made in the 1830s, including this one, were oriented to the south, probably under the influence of military map-makers whose attention was always focused on the harbour and its defense.
R. H. Bonnycastle/E.J. Ford/Gustavus Nicolls
* The Newly Incorporated City, 1834
The Town of York was incorporated as the City of Toronto on March 6, 1834, and this map was produced to record the event. It was the first separately published map of the city. The boundaries of the city and its liberties areas appended to the city to provide. room for expansion - are shown in the small inset map to the upper right. The northern boundary of the city proper was 400 yards north of Queen Street, an indication that the southern part of the park lots had been developed by the early 1830s.
Note the clusters of public buildings: those of municipal significance east of Yonge at the edge of the Old Town and the provincial buildings in the New Town. The "Lands Reserved for a Public Pleasure Ground" and a "Proposed Esplanade" on the waterfront indicate an early interest in keeping the area for recreational uses.
H.W.J. Bonnycastle/S.O. Tazewell
Samuel Oliver Tazewell, formerly a Kingston watchmaker and jeweller, introduced the new art of lithography to Canada and produced his first lithographed map in 1831.
Lithography is a method of printing from an image on the surface of a stone. . Requiring less skill than copper-plate engraving, it was ideal for maps because the draftsman could draw directly on the stone or transfer a map from paper to the stone.
Tazewell built his own press and used local stone, both of which may have contributed to the roughness of his printing (note the map to the left). However, the newspapers of the day hailed the new printing method for its speedy production of multiple copies and noted its particular usefulness. for advertising lots for sale.
The Military Reserve: An Early Example of Subdivision
The land around Fort York was set aside for military use in 1793. By 1812 the area had been reduced somewhat, bounded on the east by an.arc marking the 1000-yard range of the fort's guns, on the west by the present-day Dufferin Street, and on the north, as before, by Queen Street. The reserve was gradually cleared of trees so that the fort could be defended against enemies approaching by land.
By the early 1830s there were plans to move the fort further west; at the same time, the citizens of York were pressing for an addition to the town. The military therefore agreed to survey into building lots and to sell the part of the reserve between Peter Street and Garrison Creek.
Because this was a government-sponsored subdivision, the varied proposals for its layout have all been preserved. Two intermediate stages are shown here and the final layout is visible on the 1842 map.
* An Early Proposal for the Military Reserve, November 1833
This early proposal centres on a circle surrounded by radiating lots and includes a square and provisions for church and market. Note that the area was planned as a self-contained unit with few road connections to the town.
The properties along the lakeshore and along Lot (Queen) Street had already been sold; the prices and the names of owners were recorded on this plan. Note the higher prices paid for lots along the lake; the area attracted purchasers of a higher social status, in part because of its location near the proposed site for the Government House.
Henry James Castle/Samuel 0. Tazewell
* The Military Reserve: A Later Stage, February 1834
This proposal for the reserve differs dramatically from the previous one. A simple extension of the town grid has replaced the early innovative design. All streets were to be opened and the land was to be divided into rectangular blocks and half-acre lots.
Note that two earlier burial grounds influenced the location of squares on all versions of the proposed subdivision. The cemetery for the military is still in Victoria Square; that for cholera victims on Newgate (Adelaide) Street was soon replaced by St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church.
Henry James Castle '
* An Early Subdivision Plan, 1836
This plan shows one of the earliest subdivisions north of Lot (Queen) Street. The land was subdivided by the nephew of John McGill, the original owner who built the cottage pictured here. This plan is one of the first to include lanes - an indication that row housing, which requires access at the rear,. was anticipated.
Building in this area was slow; an addition to the map shows that an entire block was purchased in 1850 for the site of the Normal School. It is now the site of Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.
The Suburban Road Network, 1837
This untitled map probably was compiled to show which road allowances of the York Township survey had been opened (coloured lines). Many road allowances, in the Don Valley particularly, have not been opened to this day.
Note the roads that ignore the survey grid and follow the most direct or easiest route to their destinations. The main surviving ones are Dundas Street, Weston Road, Broadview Avenue, O'Connor Drive, Davenport Road, and Kingston Road.
[Toronto and vicinity showing roads]
* Blockhouses in the Suburbs, 1838
The difficulty of defending Toronto from an attack by land became evident during the Rebellion of 1837. This reconnaissance sketch of the area north of Lot (Queen) Street was made a year later to show the location of the blockhouses and the topography. Most of the blockhouses were at intersections of major streets, while one was near the Spadina circle.
That urban development was spreading well north of Queen Street is evident from the many streets which open onto Yonge and Spadina. Some of the field boundaries shown here became the borders of urban subdivisions.
"Sketch of the neighbourhood of Toronto shewing the position of the Block Houses"
The City Emerges, 1842
This, the first major map of the city and the first detailed portrayal of Toronto since 1818, indicates that the village had become a city. The urban core, which had moved west to King and Yonge, consisted of compact rows of shops and dwellings. The "house in a garden" had moved to the suburban fringe. The inverted-T shape of Toronto's built-up area was already evident as growth followed the main roads out of the city: Yonge Street, Lot (Queen) Street, and Kingston Road. Note the oversupply of building lots - typical after subdivision booms, such as that of the 1830s.
The main buildings on the map - churches, banks, and institutions are keyed to the list on the left. On the right is a list of societies without prominent. buildings, as well as other information about the city.
A few features, such as the diamond-shaped square on Spadina and Richmond Square near Lot and Parliament, were never implemented.
James Cane/Sherman & Smith
Topographical Plan of the City and liberties of Toronto
James Cane was a civil engineer and artist, who worked in Toronto and Montreal in the late 1830s and 1840s. This plan was printed in New York for lack of local lithographers of maps. In 1846 he produced a similar map of Montreal. Little is known about his background, but the great care with which the map has been executed suggests considerable training in surveying and map-making.
THE BOOM: 1850-1862
"...in all directions the city is expanding"
The early 1850s were a time of general prosperity and rapid growth. Hoping for quick profits, speculators bought. and sold land, subdivided and resubdivided lots. This land "boom" flourished until 1857, when the market collapsed.
The maps in this section reflect the bustling commercial climate and the optimistic faith in future growth that abounded in Toronto during the 1850s.
Map-making Becomes Commercial
The maps made during the boom years reflect the commercial enthusiasm of the times in many ways. They were produced to advertise property for sale, to promote the city, and to record new subdivisions. The map-makers themselves were no longer primarily civil servants or military engineers, but provincially licensed surveyors who ran their own businesses. In addition, most of the maps in this section were printed locally, an indication that the printing industry in Toronto had come of age.
York Township in 1851
York Township had more forest in 1851 than most townships. The delay in clearing the land was due in part to the number of lots held as investments by prominent Toronto families. In addition, the ravines of the extensive river systems made many areas difficult to farm.
Note that more township road allowances had been opened since the 1837 map was produced, while many early roads that did not follow the grid system had disappeared.
Many villages, all later absorbed into the metropolitan area, had sprung up on the outskirts of the city.
John Ownsworth Browne/John Ellis
* The City on the Brink of a Boom, 1851
Despite a doubling of population in the nine years since the 1842 map was made, Toronto had not expanded much in physical area. New building had mainly extended the area of the compact urban core. The university land to the west and the large estates to the east channeled growth up Yonge Street.
As in the 1842 map, the views in the border are of churches, banks, and other institutions that suggest the building of a sober and stable society.
Sandford A. Fleming/Hugh Scobie
Two Proposals for the Waterfront, 1852 and 1853
These two proposals for development along the waterfront illustrate the dramatic change in attitude that accompanied the coming of the railways. In 1852 John Howard proposed this elaborate plan (top) for parkland along an esplanade - a plan consistent with earlier ideas of the area as a recreational amenity.
One. year later, as shown in the lower plan, the railway companies had the upper hand and were competing for the best sites on the shore for stations, switching yards, and connecting piers. They were also pressing for landfill to increase the space available. The pattern that eventually emerged lacked the order of this early plan.
The decision in favour of the railways took the waterfront away from citizens and created a barrier between them and the lake. The process of returning the Toronto waterfront to the citizens has only recently begun.
John George Howard
John Ownsworth Browne/John Ellis
Subdivision is the dividing of a piece of land into smaller lots. The conversion of rural land into urban building lots could be done in one step or could involve intermediate stages. The first subdivision was sometimes Transitional, made up chiefly of lots over one acre in size used for non-urban purposes. Urban subdivision plans consisted of lots under one acre in size, and usually established the basic urban street pattern. In many instances Resubdivision divided lots of an urban plan into smaller lots, often in connection with actual building.
In Toronto subdivision by private landowners was under way by the early 1830s, and a major boom occurred in the 1850s. Plans varied in size from one or two lots to several hundred, and there was no standard size or arrangement of lots. It is often not certain whether the surveyor or the landowner was responsible for a subdivision's design, or whether alternatives were considered before a plan was finalized. In most cases the grid model of the government town surveys was followed - in fact, the long narrow shape of the park lots allowed for little else.
In contrast to today's practice, where the development of an area from lot survey to sale of houses is usually handled by one developer, each stage of development in 19th-century Toronto was usually in the hands of a different person.
A Transitional Subdivision Plan, 1852
This plan for a subdivision three miles to the east of the Don River is similar to others for areas too far from town for immediate urban development. It combined large lots for country estates, market gardens, or later speculation with small urban lots located along the major roads.
As in this case, subdivision often occurred after the death of a landowner in order to divide land among the heirs or to settle debts.
Frederick F. Passmore
The First Subdivision for Rosedale, 1854
By 1854 Sheriff Jarvis had sold all but 41 acres around his home (Rosedale Villa) and the new owner subdivided the estate into large villa lots on curving streets.
The design had its roots in the principles of English garden design. Similar principles had been applied to cemetery and park design, but the earliest known example of a curvilinear subdivision in North America was laid out in New Jersey in 1853. Rosedale may thus be only the second subdivision on the continent laid out in this way.
Note that the layout was also a practical solution to the problem posed bythe deep Rosedale ravines.
John Stoughton Dennis/John Ellis
* Enoch Turner's Land, 1854
Like many leading Toronto citizens in the first half of the 19th century, brewer Enoch Turner lived near the lakeshore; like many early manufacturers, he lived beside his business.
In the 1850s the increase in railways and industry in the area made a residence on the lakeshore less attractive and Turner moved to a suburban villa on Sherbourne Street. Boom-time property values probably encouraged him to lay out some lots for row housing, as this plan shows, but instead his entire property became the site of the gas works.
John George Howard
* Bellevue: The Denison Estate, 1854
Many subdivisions were advertised for sale on printed flyers such as this. Both the map and the notes were designed to impress buyers with the advantages of the area, including its easy access to downtown and to important buildings, such as the fashionable St. George's church and the proposed Parliament Buildings.
The land was laid out in two surveys, the southern part by Denison before his death in 1853 and the northern part by his executors in 1854. Typical of park lots where the original owner remained in residence, the land closest to the owner's home was subdivided last - in this case in 1869.
John Stoughton Dennis/Maclear & Co. Lith.
The Crookshank Estate, 1857
This estate was bought from the early owners by subdividers who laid out the entire area in a grid plan in 1853. Many blocks of these large lots were bought by speculators who intended to subdivide them further.
In 1857, as shown here, the unsold large lots were divided into small lots for working-class buyers. Although all the lots were sold in 1857, the financial crash of that year meant that many of the buyers were not able to pay and their lots reverted to the subdividers. Note Seaton Village, now "Markham Village".
John Ownsworth Browne/Maclear & Co. Liths.
Surveyors and the Surveying Profession in Toronto
By the 1850s Toronto surveyors were mostly in private practice, especially in laying out subdivisions, were employed by railway companies, or held government contracts.
Provincial Land Surveyors had become better trained - before being licensed, they were examined by a Board of Examiners on such subjects as plain trigonometry, plotting, and map drawing, and were required to serve a three-year apprenticeship with a licensed surveyor.
Apprenticing created a close professional network, which in turn led to many partnerships between surveyors, partnerships which changed and evolved over the years. Later, a few surveyors began to act as publishers and produced important general maps of the city.
John Stoughton Dennis (1820-1885) became a Provincial Land Surveyor in 1842. He was responsible for the surveying of more than 25 subdivisions in Toronto including the curvilinear plan for Rosedale which may have been his idea and for the training of many young surveyors in the 1840s and 1850s. He -became Surveyor General of Canada in 1871.
John George Howard (1803-1890) was one of Toronto's most prominent architects , in the mid 19th century. -He was appointed the first City Surveyor in 1834 and did many surveys of city streets, the waterworks system, the harbour, and the peninsula. Besides private subdivision work, he laid out St. James Cemetery in the picturesque or curved plan style.
John Ownsworth Browne (1808-1881), formerly a railway engineer in England, became a Provincial Land Surveyor in Toronto in 1848. He surveyed 50 subdivision plans in Toronto during the boom period and also produced and published several important general plans, such as the York township plan of 1851 and the compiled city plan of 1862. His son, Harry John Browne, worked with him initially and later went into the partnership of Wadsworth, Unwin, and Browne, later Unwin, Browne, and Sankey.
Vernon Bayley Wadsworth (1842-1940) and Charles Unwin (1829-1918) were prominent surveyors in Toronto in the latter half of the century. Both were pupils of J.S. Dennis. They were in partnership from 1868 to 1876 when Wadsworth left the firm to work for the London and Canadian Loan and Agency Company. Unwin also held the position of an Assessor for the City from 1872 to 1905, when he was appointed City Surveyor. The firm from which he retired in 1896, Unwin, Murphy, and Esten, is still in existence today.
* The Village of Yorkville, 1853
The generous limits of Yorkville at incorporation show that the boom mentality prevailed even in a village so small that its urban landowners could all be listed on the sides of the map.
Different patterns of transitional subdivision are evident along Yonge Street and Avenue Road to the west; these patterns had already begun to determine the location of urban streets.
The map, although somewhat resembling folk-art in the representation of the trees and the brickyard, shows the influence of the British Ordnance Survey in the patterning of fields.
Note the early idea for a rectangular plan in part of the Rosedale estate (right centre), soon to. be superseded by a dramatically different plan.
George P. Liddy
* A Popular Use of the City Map, about 1855
This map was produced as letterhead for writing paper by Charles Magnus, a printer specializing in pictorial letterheads.
Whether the letterhead was commissioned by a stationer for general sale or was designed for a single customer is not known. However, the 'g' on the map may mark the point from which the letter was written.
This map is an early example of the delineation of the shape of the built-up area, in this case by the use of hatched lines.
The "Boulton Atlas"
Sometime in 1858, William Somerville Boulton (1830-1860) and his brother Henry Carew Boulton (1833-1898), young Provincial Land Surveyors, completed this massive 30-sheet map or "atlas" of the City of Toronto. At one inch to 100 feet, this was the largest scale map of Toronto produced to that date and the first to show buildings in detail. The massive printing job was undertaken by John Ellis, a leading local map printer. It is no wonder the "atlas" took a prize at the Upper Canada Provincial Exhibition in 1858.
The maps indicated the construction material of buildings from stone through brick (red) to frame (grey and white). The legend also indicates a further classification of buildings (by use of is and 2s) into 1st and 2nd class buildings in that category. Information on fire alarms is also given.
With its detailed information on building materials, the "atlas" may be considered a forerunner of the fire insurance plans of the 1880s.
* The New Town in 1858
Although this area had been a centre for provincial government buildings since the 1830s, development slowed after the government left Toronto in 1841. After the government returned in 1855, development of the area continued with row housing, rear lanes, and new streets in evidence.
Note, that Government House and the Executive Council. office, both in spacious grounds, were oriented to the north, rather than to the street grid. Upper Canada College and the Parliament Buildings followed the American tradition of being located in a square, rather than the British tradition of fronting on it.
The Royal Alexandra Theatre now sits on the Upper Canada College grounds and faces Roy Thomson Hall on the site of Government House.
* "The Ward", 1858
This area immediately to the west of Yonge Street was built up with inexpensive housing by the .time this plan was made. By the end of the century, the district had degenerated into a slum known as "The Ward".
This is one of few sections of the city where not only original buildings, but even many of the original streets have disappeared to make way for hospitals, the Eaton Centre, and City Hall. The few surviving buildings in this area are Osgoode Hall, Trinity Church, and the House of Industry (south of Elm at Elizabeth Street).
The map shows how the present width of University Avenue was achieved by combining College Avenue with Park Lane, the street giving access to lots to the east.
A Good Address, 1858
The area east of Yonge was also built up by 1858, but with a more substantial type of housing in brick (in red), especially at the "good addresses" along Jarvis and Church.
Most of this area was subdivided according to the McGill plan of 1836 and much resubdivision into smaller lots is evident here.
In contrast, the amalgamation of some lots along Bond Street for large institutional buildings, such as St. Michael's Cathedral and the Normal School, posed a barrier to the eastward expansion of the Yonge Street commercial area.
* The Old Town, 1858
The ten blocks of the original town and the blocks to the north had been built up well before the 1850s. Note the Bank of Upper Canada at George and Duke and the Post Office immediately to the east, both erected two to three decades earlier when this area was the centre of town. Although the commercial centre had moved away from the Old Town, it remained a respectable residential area for some time to come.
The bend of Britain Street marks the old detour around the marshes of Taddle Creek, the route used before Queen Street was completed in the 1840s.
The Bank of Upper Canada and the jail were among the few buildings in Toronto built of stone.
William Somerville Boulton and Henry Carew Boulton/John Ellis
THE EMERGING METROPOLIS: 1862-1884
"Everyone can see that Toronto is destined to be a very large city, and that at no very distant day..."
During these decades the city became a fledgling metropolis as urban growth spread beyond the limits of the city. With growth, the functions and problems of the city became more complex.
Map-making Becomes Specialized
As the urban fabric grew and as its functions and problems became more complex, maps increasingly emphasized one theme or portrayed only part of the city. This specialization of interest in map content was matched by growing specialization within the professions associated with map-making.
* The Result of the 1850s Subdivision Boom, 1862
This map shows the .great increase in subdivided land as a result of the boom years of the 1850s. Building lagged well behind subdivision, however, and many of .the lots shown here were still vacant decades later.
This type of plan, known as a "compiled plan" first appeared in the 1850s. It was put together from the official plans in the Registry Office, and was very helpful- to speculators, builders, and ordinary citizens trying to locate lots.
Only the major buildings in the city are shown and, as before, they are mainly churches, banks, and institutions.
Harry John & John Ownsworth Browne/Fuller and Bencke
* Map Publishers and Printers in Toronto
Companies for the printing of maps by lithography became established in Toronto in the mid 1840s. Most of these companies also acted as publishers of some of their maps. The map production business in Toronto was dominated by two main groups which evolved "genealogically" in the following way:
Thomas Maclear, publisher and printer (in business 1853 to 1861)
Under the imprint of Maclear & Co., he was the most prolific printer of subdivision plans. He employed W.C. Chewett & W. Copp.
W.C. Chewett & Co., publisher and printer (in business 1861 to 1869)
In association with W. Copp and H. Clark, this company published many maps, including the first maps done by chromolithography, and bought out Fuller & Bencke in 1862.
Copp, Clark & Co., printers, publishers, booksellers, and stationers (1869 - ) This company was one of the most prolific printers of maps in the last half of the 19th century. The retail aspects of the business were sold to Hart & Rawlinson in 1873, but Copp, Clark & Co. remain printers and publishers today.
John Ellis, engraver, lithographer, and map printer (in business 1843-1867/8)
He was the only printer in Toronto who continued to produce engraved maps, although he also used lithography and experimented with colour lithography. succeeded by
John Rolph, engraver (in business 1867/8--1873)
Rolph, Smith & Co-, engravers and lithographers (in business 1873-1904)
This firm lithographed 17 Ontario county atlases between 1877 and 1881.
A major map producer in the 20th century, this company operates today under the name Rolph-McNally.
* Protecting Toronto from the Fenians, 1868
These reconnaissance maps were made to help the military to meet the threat of raids by the American-based Fenians on Toronto, now the capital of the new Province of Ontario.
The military nature of the maps is evident (see "References") in the type of information recorded: roads passable for artillery, farms able to supply horses and to accommodate soldiers, and sources of fresh water.
These maps are the first to show the topography of the region in detail. They reveal the close relationship between river valleys and uncleared land. The routing of roads around physical barriers is clear as well.
Although most major buildings are shown, only those important to the military, such as the taverns and hotels along the roads out of town, are identified. ied. A few industrial sites, such as the brickyards along Kingston Road and in Yorkville, are also noted.
Two Royal Engineers produced this set of maps. The difference in their styles is evident - the maps of the southern areas are much rougher sketches.
F.H. Fawkes/F.C. Hassard
F.H. Fawkes/F.C. Hassard
F.H. Fawkes/F.C. Hassard
"Sketch of a Reconnaissance of ground in the neighbourhood of
Toronto being the Eastern extremity of the tad and 3rd
Concessions from the Bay"
H.J.W. Gehle/F.C. Hassard
* High Park, about 1873
In 1873 John George Howard offered his 165-acre farm to the city for use as a park, although he continued to live at Colborne Lodge (bottom centre) until his death in 1890. Howard, with the title of Forest Ranger, took an active interest in the design and use of the park. He probably prepared this plan for the park layout.
Parks as "lungs of the city" had been promoted since mid century and the Horticultural (Allan) Gardens and Queen's Park are earlier examples. High Park, one-and-a-half miles west of the city limits, encouraged the already established westward trend of the city's growth.
John George Howard
* Fire Protection and the Affluent, 1874
Fire protection by-laws regulated the construction materials and methods that could be used in the central area of the city. By 1874 three levels of regulation, as shown here, were in use. Property owners could petition to have their street included in a stricter regulation zone in order to prevent the building of poor-quality houses. (Note the extensions to limit B, shown in yellow). Such streets were usually already the preserves of the affluent, so this practice produced a type of zoning based on status.
In contrast to the hundreds of building by-laws of today, the fire protection by-laws were the only restriction on building in Toronto during its first century.
The Bird's-eye View
The bird's-eye view is an oblique perspective drawing of a city viewed from an elevation of several thousand feet above it. The views include a three-dimensional portrayal of buildings and other features in an attempt to combine the main topographical aspects of a map with the details possible in a picture. The views appealed to civic pride and were also seen as an encouragement to commercial growth. Sold at $3 to $10, they became popular wall hangings during the last third of the 19th century.
Views were usually done by artists who solicited subscriptions in advance to guarantee sales, and who actually went around the city sketching buildings. They charged extra to draw a building in detail for the margin.
Peter Alfred Gross (1849-1914) was an American artist and lithographer established in Toronto between 1874 and 1878. He first produced illustrations for the Wentworth County atlas and then prepared and published this bird's-eye view of Toronto in 1876. The view is as if seen from a point 5000 feet above the southeastern part of the island. A year later he published J. Timberlake's Illustrated Toronto which was to accompany the view and which included a key to major buildings.
This bird's-eye view, with its three-dimensional depiction of the city, gives us a different kind of information on the buildings and topography of Toronto. Obvious here are the varying densities of development and the varied sizes and shapes of buildings. Building projects in Toronto, as in other North American cities, tended to be small so that there were no large expanses of consistent residential architecture, as there were in Britain at the time.
The harbour, the trains, and the factory smoke, together with the types of buildings shown in the margin, testify to the growing commercial and industrial interests of the city in the 1870s.
Peter Alfred Gross
Birds-eye View of Toronto, 1876
* The Development of the University Land, 1.854 to about 1882
The university land had been little developed since its purchase in 1829. King's College (in black, lower centre) had been built in 1842, but was later used as a lunatic asylum.
In 1854 the eastern part of the site (now Queen's Park) was proposed as the location for new provincial parliament buildings. The black lines on this map show the survey completed at that time by the Department of Public Works.
The coloured additions summarize the changes made over the years to about 1882. University College (upper centre) was opened in 1859 and some of the curving drives were added in that year. Wycliffe College opened in 1879 and McMaster (now the Royal Conservatory of Music) in 1881.
Taddle Creek, prominently shown in the middle, was polluted with sewage from Yorkville by the 1870s and remained a bone of contention between city and university until it was covered over in the 1880s.
Frederick F. Passmore
* Real Estate Exempt from Taxation, 1878
The coloured additions to this map show the land exempt from taxation in Toronto in 1878. The table in the upper right corner indicates the total assessed value of exempt property -. one-seventh of the value of all city property. Below this is the legend which indicates categories of exempt land. Note the high proportion of church property.
The most hotly disputed category of exempt land was "lawns and gardens", which included all land not used for urban purposes. Although not coloured on the map, this category included the unsubdivided lands of the northwest part of the city. The exemption was criticized for blocking development and lowering tax revenues. By 1880 new legislation decreed that lawns and gardens would be taxed as urban land and within a few years much had been subdivided and offered for sale.
Maurice Gaviller/Wadsworth & Unwin/Copp Clark & Co. Lith.
* Yorkville and the Northern Suburbs, 1877
This map of the northern fringe of the city encompasses the area from Bloor to St. Clair between the present-day Ossington Avenue and the Don River. The scattered distribution and varying patterns of the subdivisions in the area effectively illustrate the piecemeal nature of Toronto's growth.
Considerable resubdivision had gone on in the Village of Yorkville itself while Rosedale had been extended to the southeast. Other areas had been divided into large lots awaiting further subdivision.
Note the estates along the escarpment, the nucleus of a new prestigious residential area.
Silas James/Copp Clark & Co. Lith.
Fire Insurance Mapping
In an era of frequent large conflagrations in cities, fire insurance maps were produced to provide information for insurance companies on the nature of the buildings they were insuring, and to stow them the location and concentration of their policy holders in the event of a fire. Plans prepared at a scale of one inch to fifty feet showed the size, shape, construction materials, and occupants of every building, as well as property lines and street numbers. Fire protection facilities such as hydrants and alarm boxes were also shown.
Fire insurance maps were the first detailed property data maps for Toronto, and today provide an invaluable source of information on buildings and their uses near the end of the city's first century.
Charles Edward Goad (1848-1910) established fire insurance mapping in Canada. Employed first in the building of public works in England and railways in Canada, in the mid 1870s he began to look into the fire insurance mapping business then being established in the United States.
Mapping was done for fire insurance companies that subscribed to his service. The plans were loaned to the companies and were to be returned when no longer of use. Surveying was done in detail: the streets and all, buildings were actually measured and other data, such as the type of materials, roofs, and windows, were noted.
A plan was usually printed and ready four months after the survey was completed. The sheets were hand-coloured rather than printed as this was more economical: Corrections were printed up from time to time and sent out to the insurance companies to be cut up.and pasted on the maps, a practice visible on the 1880 plan shown here.
Goad also produced atlases of major cities for more general use and the 1884 maps are samples of these. The scale was smaller - one inch to 100 feet - and information pertained mainly to the construction materials of buildings. When Goad died in 1910 his company had been responsible for the production of tens of thousands of fire insurance plans and the mapping of over 1300 towns.
* Commerce on the Waterfront, 1880
These plans show the waterfront east of Yonge Street a quarter of a century after the oming of the railways. Infill had left Front Street considerably inland. This fringe f the central business district was dominated on the west by City Hall, railway depots, wholesale offices, and warehouses. East of George Street small-scale industries predominated. Note how effectively the massive wharves and numerous railway lines cut off the average citizen's access to the lake.
Charles Edward Goad
The Crookshank and Denison Estates Thirty Years Later, 1884
Thirty years after the first subdivision almost all the large lots on the Crookshank estate between Hope and Bathurst streets had been resubdivided, but many were still vacant. The lands of the former Denison estate around Denison Avenue, however, had long been built-up.
The awkward jog between Arthur and St. Patrick streets (later joined to form Dundas Street) shows a problem sometimes faced in linking streets of different ubdivisions.
The Grosvenor Avenue of this map was later renamed Kensington Avenue. Many of the houses shown along it and neighbouring streets survive behind the store fronts of Kensington Market.
* East to the Don, 1884
This plate demonstrates that the more accessible land near the city centre was built on first, while lots further to the east, which had been laid out as early as the 1830s, were still vacant.
Several small resubdivisions on Gerrard and Wilton (Dundas) streets are examples of a new practice common by the 1870s: the builder put up the houses first and surveyed the lots afterwards, it being easier to fit the lots to the houses than the reverse.
The area of housing for the well-to-do along Sherbourne and Pembroke streets near the popular Horticultural (Allan) Gardens is clear from the larger size of the houses and the lots. Further east was the working--class housing of Cabbagetown.
* Parkdale and Riverside, 1884
Communities developed in the 1870s to the west and to the east of the city limits. Parkdale to the west contained large detached houses, the homes of Toronto business. and professional men attracted equally by the healthful air and the lower tax rates. Note the use of the more elegant "avenue" and "crescent rather than "street".
Riverside, to the east of the Don, also had lower taxes but it was a less desirable place to live, in part because of the unhealthy reputation of Ashbridges Bay and the sewage from the cattle sheds south of Front Street. This suburb was generally a residential area for workers in the factories along the Don and the eastern waterfront.
Note Leslie and Son Nurseries, reputedly one of the biggest nurseries in the world at this time.
Charles Edward Goad
The Railways' Influence on Subdivision, 1883
The subdivision advertised here in glowing terms was laid out to attract development based on the newly established C.P.R. railyards near Dundas and Keele streets. Prospective purchasers were lured by the promise of a proposed stop on the Toronto street railway, proximity to High Park and the proposed "city drive", and proximity to new industries being built "but not near enough to be any nuisance!"
The lots near Dundas Street filled up first while those farther away were held by speculators expecting rapid growth. In 1887 this area became the nucleus of the Village of West Toronto Junction.
Unwin, Browne & Sankey/Alexander, Clare & Cable Lith.
* Part of "The Annex", 1884
Churches had been a strong drawing card in earlier subdivisions, so the promoters of this subdivision sold the cathedral site to the Anglican diocese for half-price. Connections by street railways and block-paved streets to the city centre were also used to encourage sales.
Most lots in this subdivision were built up by 1895. The cathedral, however, was never finished and the part that was built serves today as a parish church.
Unwin, Browne & Sankey/Rolph Smith
* A Century of Growth, 1884
In this map of the area south of Eglinton Avenue between the Humber River and Victoria Park Avenue (the area covered by his Atlas), Goad summarized the cumulative effects of almost a century of urban development. This complex and widespread pattern evolved within the blank space of the Toronto Purchase and land to the east, channelled by the rectilinear framework. of the government surveys, by a few major highways, and by the natural terrain. The emphasis in a map of this scale was inevitably on streets, perhaps prophetically so. Buildings may be replaced and lot lines changed; in the end the most enduring feature of any city is its street plan.
Everyone who lives, works, walks, or drives in Toronto today is affected by the past. The legal description of property, the direction faced out a window, the placement and continuity of routes to a destination all owe much to decisions documented on these and other maps in Toronto's first century.. This was not the end of the story, of course. In 18$3 the City began to widen its boundaries by annexing neighbouring communities, a political growth soon outstripped by expansion of the urban fabric until today it extends well beyond the borders of the even larger political unit of Metropolitan-Toronto. It may be said, as did the contemporary Globe, that in 1884 the ball was only beginning to roll.
Charles Edward Goad