Construction of Yonge Street through Yorkville and other Notes

The York County Atlas of 1889. Tells that “Yonge Street although laid out at first from the bay, did not become a thoroughfare south of Yorkville for many years. It was indeed impassable. The settlers entering York by Yonge Street turned eastward at Yorkville and by an irregular track reached Parliament Street. The open way between York and Yorkville was known as the “Road to Yonge Street.” In 1800 steps were taken to make a passable road to Yonge Street, by removing the trees and shrubs and laying a crossway. A public meeting was called in York, the Hon. Chief Justice Elmsly in the chair. The work was proceeded with by Mr. Eliphalet Hale. A creek had to be bridged, and a sand hill to be removed. It was many years before the road was made serviceable. In the spring and autumn it long remained bad. A wooden tramway over a part where quicksand occurred was in use for a time. This was suggested by Mr. Rowland Burr, and chiefly promoted by Sheriff Jarvis. Mr. E. Hale, above referred to was High Constable, of the Home District, and when he died in 1807, he was “considered a public loss.” In 1807, “A number of public- spirited persons collected on a Saturday to cut down the Hill at Frank’s Creek,” that is the Blue hill above Yorkville. “The Governor, when informed of it despatched a person with a present of Fifty Dollars to assist in improving Yonge Street road.” John Vanzante, on the behalf of the public pathmasters, publicly thanked his Excellency, and others who contributed.

Gallows Hill

A Bit of Local History. The first wagon track ascended the Iroquois Escarpment a little west of the present Yonge Street, through a narrow notch over which long lay a fallen forest tree. Tradition said that a despondent man committed suicide by tying a rope around his neck and this log and jumping off. Hence the name of Gallows Hill. It was not, as is sometimes told, the place where 1837 Rebels were hanged.

Memories of Mud Creek

Older residents of North Toronto still remember Mud Creek and other streams before they were buried. Don Ritchie has described how the former formed ponds in Lytton Park in the spring time: “Spring was a time for playing marbles in the melting snow and mud. The little Streams of North Toronto had not yet been tamed and funnelled into storm sewers. As the snow melted, these streams carried a great deal of water, more than could be handled by the iron conduits built under the roads. Mud Creek crossed Avenue Road just south of Glencairn, and ran down through a valley to Pears Park, thence south-westerly to Merton and Mount Pleasant, creating ponds as it went.” (Ritchie, 1990, p 135)