Recent online conversation with Duncan Campbell highlights local history of Lakeshore communities in south Etobicoke

Aerial view looking east along Lake Shore Blvd West from near Long Branch Loop, Ontario Archives Acc 16215, ES1-814, Northway Gestalt Collection. The photo shows the Colonel Samuel Smith house, originally a log cabin built in 1797, to which extensions and siding were added over the years. Mike James of Niagara on the Lake adds: The tall water tower and factory in the central rear is the old Goodyear tire factory which stretched from Ninth Street to Thirteenth Street. Click on image to enlarge it.

A recent post is entitled:

Comments from Arleen Chenoll and Cheryl Nicholls. As well, Duncan Campbell of Long Branch remembers Graeme Decarie from high school days in Montreal.

At the above-noted post, in the comments section at the end of the post, Duncan Campbell – who, as I was delighted to learn, actually went to high school with Graeme Decarie in Montreal – and I have organized an ongoing conversation related to the history of the Lakeshore communities – including Long Branch – in south Etobicoke.

I have lived in Long Branch for 21 years. We are now moving out, relocating in Stratford, Ontario where I will set up a writer’s retreat where I will write a couple of books, one of them about the local history of the Lakeshore communities, as well as of Lakeview and Port Credit in Mississauga.

The book about local history will highlight and document what I’ve learned in the course of  interviews and many meetings and hearings.

View toward the east featuring what is now École élémentaire Micheline-Saint-Cyr (formerly Parkview School), photographed from top of Aquaview Condominiums, November 2012. Click on image to enlarge it. Click again to enlarge it further. Jaan Pill photo

Below are two of the most recent comments, from Duncan Campbell and Jaan Pill respectively, from the above-noted post. I’ve set them forth at the current post, as a way of bringing attention to them.

On June 20, 2018 Duncan Campbell wrote:

Okay Jaan…don’t want to spook you out but I am a Smith! My mother and family emigrated from Scotland following WW1 and landed in Montreal. My Great Grandad and an uncle were named Samuel…and so the coincidences continue…

And who could forget the seedy old Eastwood Hotel? When I lived in the Lakeshore communities one had to abide by the temperance laws at the time. Mimico, New Toronto & Long Branch could serve a single type of alcoholic beverage, one may serve beer, another wine, and so on. To have a choice you would have had to travel east to the newly completed Seaway Motel on the east side of the Humber which had a grand dining room. A favourite dining room was The Dutch Sisters which sat at the eastern end of a whole string of tiny motels.

View of school grounds of École élémentaire Micheline-Saint-Cyr (formerly Parkview School), June 20, 2018. The shadow at the left of the image indicates roughly where the Smith house, which originated as a log cabin built in 1797, stood before it was demolished in 1955. Jaan Pill photo

View of school grounds of École élémentaire Micheline-Saint-Cyr (formerly Parkview School) looking west toward Forty First St. and Etobicoke Creek. June 20, 2018. The shadow at the left of the image indicates roughly where the Smith house, which originated as a log cabin built in 1797, stood (oriented east to west) before it was demolished in 1955. Yellow patch of grass indicates where a baseball backstop stood for many years until its removal in 2017. Jaan Pill photo

One of the chaps I worked with on 7th street was a town councillor and along with fellow distinguished public servants, was charged with bootlegging alcohol under the temperance laws. We all had a good chuckle at that slip up!

At the western end of the communities was Lakeview which had a huge permanent motor home district. Somewhere on the north side of Lakeshore was the Primeau building supply yard which was owned by former Maple Leaf great Joe Primeau.

In New Toronto near 8th street was Customs Broker Gus Ryder’s offices. Gus coached Marilyn Bell who was the first person to swim across Lake Ontario, and Cliff Lumsden who was one of Canada’s all time great swimmers. Arguably, Lacrosse was more popular than hockey, and the lakeshore was well represented in the Minto and Mann cups.

When Hurricane Hazel hit in 1954 it devastated all three communities and sadly we lost neighbours. I remember leaving work at 5pm that day with no streetcars running, lakeshore boulevard was buried under heavy water, and I walked [or waded] from 7th street to Kipling, then up to Horner and west past the Long Branch race track all the way to 30th street. I was soaked through when I arrived at 31st street in Alderwood.

View of sign, on building directly to the west of the Rexall Drug Store. The sign, which is still in place, points toward where the Eastwood Hotel used to stand, at the corner of Thirty Seventh St. and Lake Shore Blvd. West in Long Branch. Jaan Pill photo

View of sign on building directly west of the Rexall Drug Store on south side of Lake Shore Blvd. West, June 21, 2018. The sign indicates where the Eastwood Hotel used to stand, at the corner of Thirty Seventh St. and Lake Shore Blvd. West in Long Branch. Jaan Pill photo

Next morning the milkman delivered the milk and told me of two homes that were on his delivery route and were washed into the Lake. While several creeks were well above their banks, the worst devastation took its toll on the Humber river where natural loops & curves were overcome with a rushing wall of water that raced straight through on its surge to the lake. Most bridges were wiped out, yet the one across Dundas street survived and was the sole link from Toronto to the western communities.

And so the stories go….

On June 20, 2018 Jaan Pill wrote:

Wonderful to read your recent overview, Duncan. Life, I would say, can indeed present itself as a blessed trail of exciting and productive coincidences, and serendipities!

A few years ago, I interviewed a Mississauga resident named Betty Farenick, who is related to the last owners of the property where the original 1797 Samuel Smith log cabin stood, covered by extensions and siding that had been added to it over the years.

Back view (facing south) of the Colonel Samuel Smith homestead house, located at what are now the school grounds of Parkview School. Originally a log cabin, built in 1797, the house had siding and extensions added to it over the years. @ Betty Farenick and family

Back view (facing south) of Colonel Samuel Smith homestead house, located at what are now the school grounds of École élémentaire Micheline-Saint-Cyr (formerly Parkview School). Originally a log cabin, built in 1797, the house had siding and extensions added to it over the years. Photo © Betty Farenick and family

The building was torn down in 1955. Betty had a family connection to the last people to live at the house; the latter moved out in 1952, as I recall from what I have read in newspaper accounts from the time, and moved to Mimico.

Photos of the building, of Betty, and of the last residents who lived at the building, are available at a post entitled A History of Long Branch.

Eastwood Hotel

One of the things Betty (who was then around her late eighties) talked about, in a most interesting and entertaining interview, concerned the sale of an Eastwood building from one faction of the Eastwood family to another.

I refer to “factions” because, as I recall from the interview, Betty noted that the sale was made by one group of Eastwood family members to another group, and the two groups did not get along.

Betty Farenick, age about 16, visiting her uncle Robert Christopherson at the Samuel Smith house (the photo was taken at the back of the house) in the 1940s. © Betty Farenick and family

Betty Farenick, age about 16, visiting her uncle Robert Christopherson at the Samuel Smith house (the photo was taken at the south side of the house) in the 1940s. Photo © Betty Farenick and family

The James Eastwood family had bought the Smith property, including the portion where the original log cabin was located, some years after the colonel had passed away. In the years that followed, the land was repeatedly subdivided.

The group that was selling the building in question, which was located at what is now the corner of Thirty Seventh St. and Lake Shore Blvd. West in Long Branch, stipulated that the group that was buying was required to name the property as the “Eastwood Hotel.”

Betty noted that to be known as the owner of a property that had the word “hotel” attached to it was considered, in those days, to be truly a step down in the world. The word “hotel,” in turn, was associated with the word “alcohol,” which, in those days, was even more a step down – I’m guessing it was about “as far down as a person can go.”

That’s my rough version of what Betty explained to me. When I have transcribed that portion of the interview, I will know whether or not my recounting of the tale is close, or is off the mark, so far as the accuracy of my current recounting of the story is concerned. Whenever possible, I like to go with what’s in a recording, or in a document, rather than depending on my memory.

Nell and Robert Christopherson at the back of the Samuel Smith house, where they lived until 1952; the house was torn down in 1955.

Nell and Robert Christopherson at the back of the Samuel Smith house, where they lived until 1952; the house was torn down in 1955. Photo © Betty Farenick and family

There are many entertaining rough-and-tumble stories connected with the Eastwood Hotel, which readers of my upcoming book about Long Branch and nearby neighbourhoods will have the opportunity to read.

The hotel, as longtime local residents are aware, was torn down a few years ago; a Rexall Drug Store now occupies the land where the hotel once stood. A “Hotel” sign, on a building directly to the west of the Rexall store, is still in place, pointing toward where the Eastwood Hotel stood for many years.

Photos of the Eastwood Hotel as it was being torn down are available at a post entitled:

Tales of drinking and brawling at Eastwood Hotel remind me of Norse mythology

Hurricane Hazel

Bill Rawson of Long Branch Furniture (which has recently closed down) has shared some gripping stories about houses that were swept in a torrent of water into Lake Ontario during Hurricane Hazel. For my recording of Bill’s stories about Hurricane Hazel, we drove down to Marie Curtis Park, so that Bill could share the stories with me, while we sat at a spot that was close to where the tragic events unfolded.

I’ve also more recently interviewed Edward Brain, who has lived in Lakeview in Mississauga for many years. In the interview, Edward spoke among other things about the trailer park district in the area that you describe in your comment. I look forward to learning more about the trailer park / motor home district.

I like your story about the town councillor and fellow distinguished public servants. Fortunately, there are quite a few such stories available. Your story brings to mind something that I mentioned, at a talk I gave in 2017 (I think it was) at the Franklin Horner Community Centre on Horner Ave. in Alderwood.

The Lakeshore Fitness Centre. Jaan pill photo

Humber Fitness Centre. Jaan Pill photo

My talk was about the history of Long Branch. In the course of my talk, I shared some gossip related to the history of the property where Colonel Samuel Smith’s house once stood. I said that if there isn’t a little gossip thrown in here and there, when a person gives a talk about local history, people are soon going to fall asleep.

Gus Ryder Pool and Health Club

I was a member of the Gus Ryder Pool and Health Club in New Toronto for a year or two. I enjoyed seeing the photos, on display in the lobby, featuring Gus Ryder and the great swimmers associated with his coaching career. I also spent a lot of time working out at the gym at the Gus Ryder Club.

Hex bar. Jaan Pill photo

At the Humber Fitness Centre, among my favourite exercises is the Hex bar deadlift. Jaan Pill photo

Over a year ago, however, I switched to the newly constructed Humber College Fitness Centre at Twenty Fourth St. and Lake Shore Blvd. West. The new facility has more space and the equipment is newer. I now work out regularly at the latter centre.

I’m really pleased that many Lakeshore residents are keen about sports and fitness. It’s part of the history of the neighbourhoods and it’s also part of the lifestyle of many of the current residents. I really enjoy being fit and keeping in shape. It makes life that much more enjoyable!

Click on the photos to enlarge them; click again to enlarge them further

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Update

A March 27, 2008 Etobicoke Guardian article is entitled: “Bittersweet moment as historic Etobicoke hotel is demolished.”

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