Here’s to Our Kennedys
What today are acknowledged as two of our city’s busiest thoroughfares, Kennedy and Ellesmere roads, began as a couple of dusty pioneer roads in the wilds of what had been established as the Township of Scarborough back in 1850. According to Scarborough archivist Rick Schofield, Kennedy Road was named in recognition of the Kennedy family, many of whom were prominent in the early development of the township. Two of the best known Kennedys were brothers Samuel and William, who owned several hundred-acre farms on the west side of Kennedy north of Sheppard. Other family members farmed on Church Street, a thoroughfare that was subsequently renamed Midland Avenue after the Midland Railway of Canada, an early transportation company that was to become part of the new CNR when the latter was established in 1923. Much of the Midland Railway’s original right-of-way through Scarborough still exists between Kennedy and Midland and is used by GO trains on the Stouffville route.
Another prominent member of the pioneer Kennedy family was Lyman Kennedy, who served as Scarborough Township Reeve from 1896 to 1901.
The name Ellesmere was selected for the small community that developed in the early 1800s in and around this same dusty crossroads by settlers who had arrived in the New World from Ellesmere, Shropshire, England. Helen Foster, the Archive Assistant with the Shropshire council government (great thing, this email and Internet stuff) the word Ellesmere, or more correctly Ellesmeles, dates back to the eleventh century. It’s believed that the Elles portion of the word refers to a Saxon personal name, while meles or mere refers to a lake defined as being “broad in relation to its depth.”