Preserved Stories Blog

We’re pleased to share with you these 1920s to 1940s ‘cottage country’ images from Etobicoke Creek

This blog post is devoted to photos shared with us by the Durance family, including Robert Lansdale.

Please note (1) : Robert Lansdale has shared with us the following message. If you can help with contact information, please let us know:

“If you ever hear of anyone having lived on old Lake Promenade, on the spit, then I would be interested as I need some more perspective on that area. Most of those people, however, are in their 80’s or 90’s by now, such as my father

It’s most interesting to stand on the shoreline of Lake Ontario in what is now Marie Curtis Park, and to picture the community that lived here in the past.

As Robert Lansdale, who has shared many great photos with us, has remarked:

“It’s a stark change in perception when one stands on top of the same spots shown in my maps + images. It’s like walking on the moon in terms of the major land changes made since 1954.”

(1) I’ve learned from inquiries to the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) that the border between Mississauga and Toronto, south of Lakeshore Roade East (in Mississauga) and south of Lake Shore Blvd. West (in Etobicoke), is at Applewood Creek, which you can see in the first photo in this blog post.

The border goes up through Marie Curtis Park and continues north along Etobicoke Creek.

Applewood Creek at Mississauga – Toronto border at shoreline of Lake Ontario

(2) The second photo on this page depicts a smaller creek, located between Applewood Creek and Etobicoke Creek. We have not yet determined its name or history. If you have information, please let us know.

Small creek between Applewood Creek and Etobicoke Creek

(3) The third image on this page shows Etobicoke Creek as it existed during the time when the eastern branch of the stream was being channelized. If you click on the image, you can enlarge it. Click again, and the image will be further enlarged. Use your browser’s ‘Back’ button to return to the page you are now reading.

As you will note from this aerial image, Lake Promenade — at the bottom of the photo — did not end at Forty Second Street as it does now. Instead, it extended a significant distance to the west.

In the photo you can also see Forty Third Street running from Lake Shore Blvd. West to Lake Promenade. The street was located just east of where Etobicoke Creek, in its channelized version, is now located. Now a walkway exists roughly in the area where this street used to be.

Etobicoke Creek during the channelizing process

(4) The fourth photo features the Durance family. We have yet to determine where near the mouth of Etobicoke Creek the photo was taken.

(5) The final photo is an aerial view of the spit of land near where the western extension of Lake Promenade was located. The arrows point to buildings of significance for the Durance family. Again, you can enlarge the photo by clicking on it.

Please note (2): A question that interests me is: What is a good length for a blog post? It will be helpful to get feedback regarding this question from site visitors. Have you had to do a lot of scrolling to read this post? Or is the length of the post fine as it is? Your comments, as a site visitor, will be much appreciated.

I’m aware that, as a rule, a brief communication tends to be more effective than a longer one.

Durance family by Etobicoke Creek. Photo credit: Durance family © Durance family and Robert Lansdale

What is now Marie Curtis Park, as it appeared in 1947 (detail). Photo credit: Durance family © Durance family and Robert Lansdale

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18 Responses to We’re pleased to share with you these 1920s to 1940s ‘cottage country’ images from Etobicoke Creek

  1. Ron Beveridge says:

    July 3, 2012
    What a pleasant surprise it was to find your website about Long Branch – quite by accident.

    In 1951, our family moved from Toronto to our new – and very tiny – home located on Lake Promenade, a few houses east of Etobicoke Creek. For young boys (my brother and I), the area, including Etobicoke Creek, was an absolute paradise, although I am sure our parents felt otherwise.

    We had endless adventures by the pier and on the Creek. We made a raft which carried 4 or 5 of us down the lazy river toward Lake Ontario. The was a shallow area up the creek that was shaded by a huge willow tree. We threw a rope over a large branch and then made sure the rope tied securely. Then, walking backward with the other end, we’d suddenly rush forward and leap into the air…right into the deep part of the creek. What fun! and sheer joy it was!

    There are far too many stories to relate here. But I will mention the severe storms that lashed the shore on a few occasions. Most homes on the other side of the Creek were destroyed by heavy waves one night – as we saw for our selves the next day. Some homes were lifted up and pulled out into the lake. People heard the screams of those who sadly died in the storms, storms that preceded Hurricane Hazel (October 15, 1954).

    We lived in Long Branch for two years. We then moved back to Toronto to a brand new house. But those years in Long Branch (now Marie Curtis Park) are indelibly etched in our memories as probably the happiest time of our lives. In late June this year, my brother made a trip from his home in Vancouver, to visit my wife and me. What wonderful memories we shared. As it happened, two of our cousins were also at the reunion. They had been our childhood playmates in Long Branch. Needless to say, the stories and laughter went on and on and on…

    I would love to hear from others who lived in the area in the early 1950’s. Please write to me with your stories or memories.

    Congratulations on this website.

    Thank you.

  2. Jaan Pill Jaan Pill says:

    I so very much appreciate your comments.

    Thank you for your kind comments about the website. I wouldn’t have gotten around to launching it about a year ago were it not for a chance conversation with Mary Bella, of Maestra Web Design

    She helped me to get up to speed on learning to work with WordPress and has been helping with maintenance of the site ever since. Prior to that I had spent a few years getting the overall design in place thanks to great work by Walden Design

    When I posted your message to a mailing list, that I use to inform people who are interested about news related to Long Branch and nearby communities, I received this comment from Tim Dobson of Long Branch:

    “And send my thanks to the persons that wrote to you. A stranger such as myself enjoyed seeing their comments.”

    My wife also enjoyed your message. I thought the description of diving into the water is so evocative. I can just see those kids rushing forward and leaping into the air! It was wonderful to hear as well as the great stories that emerged when your brother came to visit you from Vancouver, and when two cousins joined in the reunion. I find it so enjoyable to know of people sharing great stories.

    Some stories related to the lake are indeed sad ones — loss of life from storms, both at the waterfront, and also when young people have been out sailing.

    I’m looking forward to posting brief videos at this website over the coming year or so, based on interviews I’ve been doing with long-time Long Branch residents in recent years. As Tim Dobson has noted, such a website has the potential to become a great place for the collecting and sharing of memories of residents.

    Your comments have prompted me to work hard to post more material about life in Long Branch. Some stories, I like to say, deserved to be preserved.

    I look forward to hearing more stories from you, Ron. I’ll write at greater length by email.



  3. Doug Beveridge says:

    I am the brother Ron Beveridge referred to in his comments, above, and I live in Vancouver. Yes, our two years on Lake Promenade from 1951-53 have been a source of many rich memories. We were only 20 or 30 metres from the shoreline, and there was, therefore, always a significant risk from rising water and wave action in storms. We were the third house east of Etobicoke creek. We had a number of large logs piled up between our house and the shoreline, as protection, and Babe and Ernie (don’t know their last name)an older couple, lived 3 or 4 houses east of us. They had large oil barrels filled with cement and lined up behind their house as their protection. None of these precautions worked. The 1952(?) storm tossed it all around like matchsticks. We survived and moved the next year. I knew a Beth Durance when I was in grade 3 (1951). I wonder if this is the same Durance family as mentioned on your blog??. My brother and I could go on forever with stories from that time. Nice to see the site. Keep up the good work!

    • tudi nuttley says:

      yes, Beth Durance is of the above Durance Family 🙂

      • Jaan Pill Jaan Pill says:

        I have a good memory of going for a walk with Beth Durance and Doris Durance, prior to a Jane’s Walk that I was involved in organizing in Long Branch a few years ago. By that stage in her life, Doris didn’t have the stamina to join us for a long Jane’s Walk, but she was able to join us for a short walk in the area of Marie Curtis Park, between the current, channelized version of Etobicoke Creek and Applewood Creek along the Lake Ontario shoreline.

        The information that Doris and Beth shared with me, at that time, I was able to share with other people when we had the Jane’s Walk, a day or two later. I much enjoyed the fact that Doris was able to share with me all kinds of information about the cottage community that existed near the mouth of Etobicoke Creek from the 1920s into the 1950s.

        What she shared is part of our local history, and we owe thanks to her for speaking with us on many occasions, and bringing to life her memories of days gone by. She was a remarkable woman. I am very pleased, indeed, that I had the opportunity to get to know her. I first got to know Doris whens he was around her early nineties.

        [I’m looking forward to revising the above-noted text, as David Durance has noted that there are some details that need to be corrected for accuracy. I look forward to speaking with David in the next while. I like to do what I can to ensure that my recollections of things are as accurate as possible. Talking with David will help me to fulfill this important objective.]

  4. Jaan Pill Jaan Pill says:

    It’s wonderful to read your message, Doug. What you describe about the rising water and wave action is information that is highly valuable, by way of providing a sense of the dangers houses faced at that location. I would imagine that Beth Durance would have been part of the Durance family mentiond in the blog. Doreen Durance has been a tremendous source of information, in oral history interviews that I hope to edit and post over the coming year. The Durance family has shared many first-rate photos with me from the 1950s and earlier.

    You may have seen this one from the mid-1920s, from the Preserved Stories website:

    Eileen Tyrrell, who also lived in that area for some years, has shown me a photo of the waves during a storm. It’s a remarkable photo.

    Thank you for your words of encouragement regarding the site. I much appreciate your comments. I’m looking forward to developing the site further.

  5. Robert Lansdale says:

    “We survived and moved the next year. I knew a Beth Durance when I was in grade 3 (1951). I wonder if this is the same Durance family as mentioned on your blog?”

    Yes, she’s the daughter of the same Doreen Durance mentioned in the 2013 Jane’s Walk blog entries. A relative of mine. I did the family tree for the Durance family going back to 1698.

  6. Jaan Pill Jaan Pill says:

    It’s wonderful to be following these messages. I’ve learned so much from talking with Doreen Durance in recent years, most recently in preparation for the May 2013 Jane’s Walk in Long Branch. As well, Robert Lansdale’s work in keeping history alive – and using an evidence-based approach to the study of local history – is a source of tremendous inspiration for me.

  7. Elizabeth Watkins says:

    Thank you so much Robert Lansdale for taking the time to post these precious photos of the past on the Did You Live In Mimico / New Toronto / Long Branch group. I am the co-administrator of the group and Sharon Stewart Kettlewell is the creator of the group.

    Any info or old photo’s of the past certainly are welcome!

    One of the ladies from the Durance family passed away in August of 2013 and I can’t remember her first name now to tell you who it was maybe you heard about her death.

    Elizabeth Watkins

    • tudi nuttley says:

      Doreen Durance’s daughter, Barbara, passed away August 6th, 2013. Doreen passed away April 9, 2016 at 95 years young!

  8. Jaan Pill Jaan Pill says:

    I was saddened to learn of Barbara Durance passed away on Aug. 6, 2013 at St. Joseph’s Hospital at the age of 64. My own contact with her has been through the fact that Barbara has in years past been tremendously helpful in ensuring that the Durance family photographs have been shared widely among local history enthusiasts. Barbara will be missed by many people.

  9. Rex Bradley says:

    My father came back from the war and bought a lot at 22- 38th St. Since money was tight we even scrounged nails from the burned out Murphy Paints. As kids we played at the lake all the time. Down at the flats the sewer plant would stink and often overflowed.
    The stories I can tell you from 49 to 56 are many.
    Good luck with your site, I really enjoy it.

  10. Jaan Pill Jaan Pill says:

    It’s truly a delight to read your comments, Rex. The word picture that you create – kids playing at the lake, the sewer plant on the flats – is vivid and compelling. I will contact you by email, in the event you may have time to share some of your stories with me, so that I can record and transcribe them. As well, I would be interested to know if you or your family have written down some of your stories.

    Comments such as yours mean a tremendous amount to me. I’m very pleased to know that people like to visit my site from time to time, and that they enjoy the content. It’s a wonderful thing when we have the opportunity to know of each other’s stories – including the stories that relate to Long Branch and adjacent communities over the years.

  11. Jennifer says:

    Doreen Durance who you speak of passed away on April 9 2016

  12. Jaan Pill Jaan Pill says:

    I was saddened to hear from Orma Stevenson that Doreen Durance had passed away. I was not aware of the date; I much appreciate having that information. I remember the last time I spoke with Doreen. She was outside of her house, doing some yard work. She was still going strong, at that time. She was always a delight to speak with.

    I feel very fortunate that, over the years, I was able to record many conversations with Doreen by way of one-to-one interviews, and with Doreen in conversation with several of her friends and/or relatives of the same generation. I look forward to transcribing and posting these conversations online in the future.

    Among the things that I remember is a time some years ago when, prior to a Jane’s Walk that I had organized with my friend Mike James, Doreen and one of her younger relatives took my on a tour of the area west of Etobicoke Creek where the cottage community had existed in the 1920s to the mid-1950s. Doreen pointed out areas north of the current Waterfront Trail, along a creek that runs north to south in the area (east of Applewood Creek) where some of the cottages had been located.

    As we walked in the area, and as Doreen pointed out spots where cottages had been located, it took minimum effort, on my part, to picture where the cottages had been, and to think of the wonderful summer days that people had experienced there for many years.

    Doreen also pointed out trees that had been mature trees in the Cottage Country era, and that had served as landmarks for the people in the area during that era. She noted that the trees were still there, and that they still served as landmarks.

    Another story, that I aim to be transcribing in future, concerns a close friend of Doreen’s who loved to go sailing on Lake Ontario in a small sailboat. Sailing was such a source of enjoyment, for her friend. Doreen’s friend and her friend’s boyfriend (or maybe it was her husband, but I think she was still quite young and not yet married) were caught in a storm on the lake and both perished.

    As I recall from Doreen’s description of the event, her friend’s body was never found. Doreen shared the story with me on several occasions when we were recording her recollections of events of many years ago. Clearly, the loss of her friend and of her friend’s boyfriend affected Doreen profoundly.

    Another story that Doreen shared with me concerns times that she would go to see the movies, at a Long Branch theatre, when she was in her teens. She noted that her father made a point of getting some friend of his to keep and eye on Doreen, while she was at the movies. Doreen found such surveillance annoying.

    As well, if I recall correctly, in one of our recorded interviews, she spoke about how, around the age of 18, her father abruptly informed her that her days of schooling were over, and that she was now going to go to work.

    Another story that comes to mind concerns the early years of her marriage, when she and her husband moved to some area west of Long Branch, in what is now Mississauga. In those days, there was no indoor plumbing, in Long Branch or in Mississauga. Instead, people used outhouses.

    As it happened, the area where she and her husband moved to, in Mississauga, was characterized by geographical features that caused the smell of human sewage to permeate the entire neighbourhood. It may have been a low-lying area; I will know when I listen to the recording. Doreen had said, in so many words, “I can’t live here,” and she and her husband consequently moved back (or moved to, for the first time: I will know these details after I have transcribed the interview) to Long Branch.

    I am very pleased that I got to know Doreen, and that she lent me many photographs from years ago that I was able to scan and turn into jpeg files. I am saddened at her loss. My memory of Doreen will remain with me and with many, many other people who had the good fortune to know her.

    • David Durance says:

      Thank you for the kind words you spoke about Mom. Mom was very proud to live in long branch there are a few things that need to be correct in what you wrote if you should like to talk I am available

      • Jaan Pill Jaan Pill says:

        I look forward to speaking with you, David. I will contact you by email. I always like to do all that I can, to ensure that what I share is based on the best possible information. You den help me, for sure, to ensure that the stories that I share about your Mom are based on the best possible information.

  13. Jaan Pill Jaan Pill says:

    A Toronto Star obituary notice for Doreen Durance reads:

    DURANCE, Doreen —

    Peacefully passed away at Dorothy Ley Hospice on Saturday, April 9, 2016 having achieved her 95th birthday. Predeceased by her husband Cyril (1985) and her daughter Barbara (2013). Survived by her son David (Sheila) and daughter Beth (Robert) and their families. She will be remembered and missed by her extended family. The family would like to express their appreciation for the care from the staff at Dorothy Ley Hospice. Friends will be received at the Ridley Funeral Home, 3080 Lake Shore Blvd. W. (at 14th St., between Islington and Kipling Aves., 416-259-3705) on Wednesday from 12 noon until time of service in the chapel at 1 p.m. Interment to follow at Glendale Memorial Gardens. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a charity of your choice. Messages of Condolence may be placed at

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