About Deer Park

Our official boundary as the Deer Park Residents Group, as defined in our bylaws, is shown below.

 

 A brief history of Deer Park

Deer Park used to be referred to by the First Nations people as “Mashquoteh”, which is Ojibway for meadow or woodland where deer come to feed. In 1795 Lt Governor Simcoe instructed the Deputy Provincial Surveyor to open a cart road from York Harbour to Lake Simcoe. This Yonge Street – was completed in 1796.

In 1802, 40 acres, north west corner of the cart road, and St. Clair Avenue West (then the third Concession Road), was granted to Frederick Baron de Hoen. Eight years later, before he left for Baden, Germany, he sold the property to Mary Elmsley, the widow of the Chief Justice. In 1837, Agnes Heath, widow of Col. Charles Heath of the Honourable East India Company Service, relocates from India to Canada with her children and purchases the property and appropriately names it Deer Park.

DPRG History Image 1

View of Deer Park (Lawton Park & Christ Church, 1878)

In 1846 Agnes Heath sells the property to her son Charles Wallace Heath who has the property subdivided into 33 lots.

By the 1850’s the Deer Park area had grown to include a handful of country villas, a general store, a school, a cemetery, a race track, and a hotel that was located at the intersection of Yonge and St. Clair. Patrons at the Deer Park Hotel used to delight in feeding the deer that roamed on the hotel grounds.

In 1891 Upper Canada College moved from its urban location to the then still rural Deer Park area, establishing a large campus that remains in the same location today, interrupting Avenue Road north of St. Clair Avenue.

The deer were long gone by the time Deer Park was annexed to the City of Toronto in 1908. Deer Park filled in very quickly after annexation. By the 1930’s the Deer Park neighbourhood was established as one of Toronto’s finest residential districts.

DPRG History Image 3

Deer Park is home to one of Toronto’s oldest cemeteries. St. Michael’s Cemetery (Toronto) was opened by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto on September 28, 1855. There are some 29,000 graves in the cemetery. Ten acres in size, St. Michael’s has the unusual characteristic of being surrounded on all sides by the backs of buildings, thus making it nearly invisible from the street. It is bound on the north by stores, apartments and office buildings along St. Clair Avenue West, on the west by houses along Foxbar Road, on the south by houses and a fire hall along Balmoral Avenue, and on the east by stores and office buildings along Yonge Street. Entrance to the cemetery is gained through an alley off Yonge Street. The cemetery’s octagonal mortuary vault was used to store bodies in the winter until the ground thawed. Designed by architect Joseph Sheard, who was also mayor of Toronto in 1871-72, the vault was designated a historic property under the Ontario Heritage Act in December 1975.

More recent events

40 Heath Street West At one time owned by the church, Archbishop Desmond Tutu stayed in the house which was used for visiting Clerical dignitaries. The police occupied the house while staking out the Boyd Gang which resulted in their arrest as noted below.

42 Heath Street West After a stakeout, Canada’s most notorious bank robber of the day, Edwin Boyd, leader of the Boyd Gang, was captured in this house at 6:00AM on March 15, 1952. Even Toronto’s mayor of the day, Allan Lamport, got into the act, escorting Boyd out of the house accompanied by Sergeant Adolphus (Dolph) Payne of the Toronto police force.

50 Heath Street West Constructed in 1923, the McNamara House is a rare example of the Prairie School of architecture in Toronto.

DPRG History Image 4

Famous Former Residents

  • Classical pianist Glenn Gould lived in Apt. 902 at 110 St Clair Avenue West from 1962 until his death in 1982. He is buried in nearby Mount Pleasant Cemetery.
  • J. E. H. MacDonald, a founding member of the Group of Seven painters, lived at 40 Duggan for several years until his death on September 26, 1932.
  • Pierre Salinger (1925–2004) was press secretary to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, and campaign manager to Robert F. Kennedy. He was mere metres away when R.F.K. was assassinated. He lived at 37 Lonsdale Road, while very young, from 1929-1932/3.
  • Novelist Joy Fielding (b. 1945) wrote Kiss Mommy Goodbye while living at 83 Lonsdale Road during the last three years of the ’70s.
  • Writer Farley Mowat (1933–2014) lived at 90 Lonsdale Road for six months in 1939-40.
  • Poet Margaret Avison (1918–2007) lived in Apt. 104 at 150 St Clair Avenue West from 1964-70.
  • Actor William Hutt (1920–2007) lived at 18 Ferndale Avenue for several years in his childhood.
  • Architect Rod Robbie (1928-2012), lived at 16 Cornish Road from 1966 until his death. He and his wife Enid Robbie are buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery.
  • John Turner the second shortest sitting Prime Minister of Canada June 30 to Sept. 16 1984 lived at lived at 59 Oriole Rd. for a period ending in mid-2012.

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