About the Author

Scott Kennedy

Scott Kennedy witnessed the farms surrounding his North York childhood home being planted with a new cash crop of buildings. He joined the Toronto Musicians' Association in 1969, but as a professional musician he never lost his passion for history. He traces the evolution of a Toronto neighbourhood in his book Willowdale. Scott lives in a Historical Conservation District he helped create in Toronto's Beach neighbourhood.

Books by this Author
200 Years at St. John's York Mills

200 Years at St. John's York Mills

The Oldest Church in Toronto
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : anglican, history
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When the Reverend Lewis Garnsworthy was inducted as the ninth rector in St. John’s history on the evening of Wednesday, February 24, 1960, many felt that he had big shoes to fill. After all, he was succeeding the longest serving incumbent in the parish’s history, Arthur Clendenning McCollum, who had served for thirty-four years. However, Archdeacon McCollum himself put that notion to rest when he noted dryly that “The Good Lord did not give him my shoes to fill: he must fill his own.”
The new incumbent inherited a healthy, growing parish in an area of Toronto that was still in the middle of a post-war building boom. Arthur McCollum had presided over a time that saw new housing developments built on much of the former farmland in the area. He had tried to visit every one of the new households and invite the residents to join his parish, demonstrating a long-standing Anglican notion that the rector was responsible for everyone in his parish, not just the Anglicans. By the time Lewis Garnsworthy arrived, the nearby St. Andrew’s Golf Club had been sold for a new housing development that by 1964 would stretch from Old Yonge Street to Bayview Avenue. Other subdivisions — such as Silver Hills, near the southwest corner of Leslie Street and Highway 401 — were popping up all over the area at the same time, providing even more potential parishioners. The new rector, along with his wife Jean, son Peter, and daughter Kathy, settled into the rectory at 174 Old Yonge Street and got down to business.
Lewis Garnsworthy brought with him a reputation as a “preacher of some note,” as Jim O’Neil once remarked, and before long his sermons were attracting Anglicans from all over the city. In 1963, a nine-thirty service was added to the eight o’clock and eleven o’clock Sunday morning services to handle the overflow. In April 1963, Lewis wrote and delivered a series of talks for a CBL (CBC) radio program called Plain Talk. His six-talk series included one on Prayer, the Clergy, Hymns, the Bible, Going to Church, and the Family Unit. Throughout the rest of 1963, there was so much traffic in the parking lot on Sunday mornings that sidesmen were pressed into service as traffic police.
In 1964 Lewis Garnsworthy was appointed canon of the Cathedral of St. James in downtown Toronto. In 1966 he presided over the 150th anniversary services at St. John’s York Mills. Planning for the anniversary began in 1964. The addition to the church that came to be known as the Arthur C. McCollum Wing was constructed as the centrepiece of the celebrations. One of the more interesting stories concerning the fundraising for the project involved well-known parishioner and wealthy businessman E.P. Taylor. At that time, Mr. Taylor lived nearby on Bayview Avenue at Windfields Farm, where he bred race horses. It seems that when E.P. was first approached, he was told that the construction would cost $225,000. After doing a quick calculation in his head, he concluded that the actual cost would be closer to $250,000, and since he never contributed more than 10 percent of any given project, he wrote St. John’s a cheque for $25,000.
The 150th Anniversary Parish Dinner was held in the Centennial Ballroom of the Inn on the Park, the much-loved, mid-century modernist hotel that once graced the northeast corner of Leslie Street and Eglinton Avenue East. Sadly, the main parts of the hotel were demolished in 2006. By 2015, the ballrooms and the tower built in the 1970s to accommodate additional guests were also gone.
On Thursday, November 21, 1968, the new wing of St. John’s York Mills was dedicated. Lewis Garnsworthy had named the Arthur C. McCollum Wing in honour of Archdeacon McCollum, who had died on February 18, 1967. Lewis Garnsworthy had been elected Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of Toronto on October 8, 1968. He was consecrated on Saturday, November 30, 1968, and granted permission to remain at St. John’s until the end of the year.

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Don Mills

Don Mills

From Forests and Farms to Forces of Change
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
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Chapter 1: Moatfield Farm

Moatfield is one of the best-known farms in Toronto. The original farmhouse, now a fine restaurant, is still a visible, vibrant part of the community on its prominent site overlooking Don Mills Road. If one is so inclined, it is possible to go in and have a meal, maybe sit where David Duncan sat in the 1870s shortly after he built the house, and marvel at what an incredible farm Moatfield must have been in its day.
David Duncan got a pretty nice wedding gift from his father when David married Anne Laird in 1873. David’s father, William Duncan III, was an incredibly generous man. Born in Dublin in 1801, he travelled to Canada to sell linens from his Irish flax mills. So impressed was he with Upper Canada, that he bought a farm here on only his second trip in 1827. He paid £700 for a 200-acre farm on the north side of Sheppard Avenue West, stretching from Dufferin Street to Keele Street. He also bought farms for his four brothers.
William had nine sons. In fact, he had so many children that he had to build a school and hire a schoolmaster; generous as always, he invited the neighbouring children to attend as well.
David Duncan’s wedding gift from his father was Lot 11-3E, a 200-acre farm on the north side of York Mills Road that William had bought in 1848, stretching from Leslie Street in the west to the current Don Valley Parkway in the east. David didn’t let his father down. His farm, dubbed Moatfield, specialized in dairy cattle. David bred the first Jersey cows in the province and quickly became one of the most respected and prize-winning farmers in all of Ontario.
The farmhouse itself was equally impressive, built with red bricks made from the Don River clay found on the property. The walls were two feet thick. The house had six bedrooms and would eventually feature four bathrooms and the first telephone in the community. The floors were made from white pine, also harvested on-site. The baseboards were eighteen inches high, the doors two inches thick, and all door frames were hand-carved. The exterior of the house featured arched windows accentuated with stone, gables, a large veranda, and a main-floor bay window. Perhaps the most impressive feature of the exterior, however, was the extensive bargeboard, or gingerbread trim. British settlers introduced this elaborate type of trim to Canada in the 1830s. Practical as well as decorative, the trim discouraged birds and protected the house from rain and snow. In its day, this trim was rarely painted white, since darker colours were favoured. The popularity of this type of trim began to wane in the late 1860s, and Moatfield is thought be one of the last examples in the area.
In 1880, David expanded his farm when he bought the southeast quarter of Lot 11-2E, on the northwest corner of York Mills Road and Leslie Street. By 1910, he owned the entire eastern half of this lot and the southeast quarter of Lot 12-2E directly to the north, giving him 150 acres on the northwest corner of Leslie and York Mills, in addition to the original 200-acre Lot 11-3E on the east side of Leslie Street. David gave the property on the west side of Leslie Street to his son Hartley. It would remain productive farmland until the late 1960s as a part of E.P. Taylor’s spectacular Windfields Farm.
David Duncan farmed at Moatfield for over forty years until his death in 1914 at the age of seventy-seven. When David died, his son Gordon, then aged twenty-five, took charge of Moatfield, which continued to be a prize-winning farm until Gordon’s death in 1962. Gordon’s widow, Kate, remained at Moatfield.
By now, the farm was down to sixteen acres surrounding the farmhouse at the corner of York Mills and Don Mills roads, the rest already having been digested by an increasingly hungry city. Don Mills Road was about to be extended north of York Mills Road, all the way up to Sheppard Avenue East. The new roadway would come within 200 feet of the house. Businesses of all sorts now surrounded Moatfield. Anyone who had their car washed at the Don Mills Car Wash, still standing on former Moatfield land and itself a survivor of a different age, was right next door to Kate. Only a row of pine trees, still standing at the time of this writing, separated the car wash from the farmhouse. Kate seemed to take most of the changes in stride. “We don’t notice too much change in our way of life since people have settled all around us,” she told Val Grimshaw of the Don Mills Mirror in February 1962 before Gordon’s death. “I have no objection to progress and development in an area,” Mrs. Duncan said. “I only wish planners would leave some of the landmarks around instead of trying to bury everything quickly before anyone misses it. Much of our early heritage in this area, I’m afraid, is under smooth, sodded lawns.”
When Kate Duncan died in 1972, she willed the remainder of Moatfield to North York, hoping the farm could somehow be preserved and feeling this was her best chance to do so. Though there was brief talk of a heritage park being created on the property, the voracity of the status quo soon prevailed and the remains of Moatfield were sold to developers who wanted to build a huge, modern hotel. As the Hunter farms directly to the north were already sprouting a new crop of office buildings and the rest of Moatfield had already been developed, approval for this latest plan met little opposition. The only condition the borough insisted on was that the Moatfield farmhouse could not be demolished.
So the Prince Hotel was built. The well heeled came to stay and dance and dine, to swim and laugh and be pampered at the spa, while out on York Mills Road, Moatfield sat for the next fourteen years abandoned, ignored, and deteriorating. It seemed destined to end up as just another victim of demolition by neglect. Numerous plans for the home’s salvation were considered and rejected.
Help finally arrived in 1986 when brothers George, Bill, and Peter Tzioumis moved Moatfield around the corner on a flatbed truck. There, on its original lot, but facing Don Mills Road instead of York Mills Road, Moatfield was painstakingly restored at a cost exceeding three million dollars and reborn as a fine dining establishment called The David Duncan House. Peter Tzioumis said it all when he was interviewed by Lynne Ainsworth of the Toronto Star in September 1988: “I come from a country with a lot of history and this is what makes Greece,” he said. “Whatever we’ve got left here in Canada we must save.”2 The Tzioumis brothers worked with the North York Historical Board to make sure that the restoration was as accurate as possible. The results are spectacular, with custom-made wallpaper, carpets, and furniture nestling up against meticulously restored plaster and hand-carved woodwork. All in all, a much happier ending than anyone had dared to hope for, and well worth a visit.

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Toronto Local History 3-Book Bundle

Toronto Local History 3-Book Bundle

Don Mills / 200 Years at St. John's York Mills / Willowdale
edition:eBook
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Toronto Neighbourhoods 7-Book Bundle

Toronto Neighbourhoods 7-Book Bundle

A City in the Making / Unbuilt Toronto / Unbuilt Toronto 2 / Leaside / Opportunity Road / Willowdale / The Yonge Street Story, 1793-1860
edition:eBook
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Willowdale

Willowdale

Yesterday's Farms, Today's Legacy
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
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