I’ve prepared the following text for a story submitted to the Jane’s Walk website; I much enjoy working on such brief overviews of events. If we seek to get anything across, sometimes we have to focus on brevity:
Our Walk drew upon input from many people, who designed the Walk route and chose key points to focus upon. We drew, in particular, upon the history of land-use planning in Long Branch, starting from the 1880s.
Our Walk leader, MPP Peter Milczyn, who worked as an architect before he was elected to office, first as Councillor and later as MPP, added much original material to the basic notes we had prepared. By way of example, he described the changes – such as the closing in of verandas – that were evident, when we looked at Cottage Era houses, that are still in place from the original, exclusive summer resort, developed in 1884, known as Long Branch Park.
Peter Milczyn also described the extensive redevelopment that has occurred in recent years north of Lake Shore Blvd. West in Long Branch, at the northern boundary of the original Long Branch Park. We have posted a YouTube video which highlights key points from this segment of the walk:
Along the way, we stopped at an 80-feet-tall, 200-year-old red oak tree, recently designated as a Heritage Tree. We owe thanks to the Long Branch Neighbourhood Association for doing the research, that led to official designation of this Heritage Tree, which is located at the corner of Long Branch Ave. and Park Blvd., close to the Lake Ontario waterfront.
The red oak tree is within viewing distance of where the Long Branch Hotel was located until it burned down in 1958, when a blowtorch was used, in an attempt to thaw some frozen water pipes. The hotel had served, since the late 1880s, as a centrepiece of Long Branch Park. Eye-witness accounts, from residents who saw the hotel burn down in 1958, spoke of huge rats that escaped from the building, running as fast as their legs could carry them.
Another YouTube video highlights apartment development of the area in the vicinity of the hotel, after the fire that occurred in 1958: