By GENE DOMAGALA
I will be leading an historic walking tour of Kingston Road on Saturday, Oct. 14, starting at 1 p.m. We will be meeting at the southeast corner of Kingston Road and Victoria Park Avenue.
Kingston Road has a long and varied history over the past hundreds of years.
Originally it was the route taken by First Nations peoples who travelled near the shoreline of Lake Ontario from one area to another.
Later, the French came and traversed the same routes. In the French regime, it was known as the Road to Quebec. Later, during the English period, the name was changed and it was called the Road to Kingston (Ontario).
In 1793, Lt. Gov. of Upper Canada John Graves Simcoe and the government of the day commissioned a road to be built.
The road was started by an American builder named Asa Danforth. He never completed the road, only building about 30 to 40 miles of it.
Kingston Road was the busiest means of transportation in the eastern part of Ontario for many years. The corner of Main Street and Kingston Road (Main Street was originally called Dawes Road where it crossed Kingston Road) was the busiest intersection for those looking to get to the downtown area of Toronto.
Over the years, toll gates were necessary to pay for the upkeep of the road. However, they were abolished in 1897 as the province and then the city assumed responsibility for the road.
Kingston Road from the 1900s to the present day has transformed itself to a modern city road from its rural beginnings.
There were a few hotels on Kingston Road in the East Toronto area, there was also the East Toronto Brick Yards located on the north side, and churches and businesses also sprang up along the road.
Many of these businesses began to flourish. There was even a golf course 100 years ago near Main and Kingston.
Through our area the road also boasted the natural peak of the Glen Stewart Ravine.
There were also educational facilities being built along or near Kingston Road such as Notre Dame, Malvern, St. Johns, and Neil McNeil.
Banks also sprang up near major intersections as did business of every type. Today, Kingston Road is a shopping paradise and cultural centre – including the recently opened Steve and Sally Stavro Family YMCA on the south side just east of Beech Avenue.
When we do our walk on Oct. 14, we will see many of the new shops and businesses together with historical past of Kingston Road which makes it such a special place. It has 230 years of history going back to 1793 and Lt. Gov. Simcoe.
Our historical walk will proceed west along Kingston Road from Victoria Park Avenue. The walk will end at Main Street.
Bring your walking shoes and see you there.