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August 21 - September 28, 2019 Third Floor Gallery 2 Colonel Samuel Smith Park Drive lakeshoregrounds.ca

curation team History and Culture Commitee, Long Branch Neighbourhood Association Bill Zufelt Judy Cutmore

Lakeshore Grounds Interpretive Centre Jennifer Bazar Nadine Finlay Caitie McKinnon Jonny Devaney

The Cottage Years has been created in partnership between the Lakeshore Grounds Interpretive Centre and the Long Branch Neighbourhood Associations’ Long Branch 135 Initiatives and History and Culture Committee in recognition of the 135th anniversary of Long Branch.

Cover image: A Quiet Game, 1893; Courtesy of Library and Archives Canada

The Cottage Years provides a nostalgic trip through photo albums of years past as a means of exploring the tourism industry that shaped the community of Long Branch 135 years ago. The exhibit brings together photographs, maps, artefacts, and illustrations from across seven decades of local history set alongside paintings of Etobicoke Creek by local artist, Pat Rice. This Guide takes inspiration from the 1888 Souvenir Guide for Long Branch by providing detailed context and history for each section of The Cottage Years. The text serves both to augment the experience of a self-guided visit to the exhibit as well as a take-home memory of yesteryear.

Read the original 1888 Souvenir Guide online: https://static.torontopubliclibrary.ca/da/pdfs/37131055467450d.pdf

long branch park. The original plan for a seasonal resort on the waterfront property, near what is today Long Branch Avenue, featured 602 villa lots that would be united under the name of “Sea Breeze Park.” Sixty-four acres had been purchased by a consortium from James and Martha Eastwood in 1883 for the project but it never amounted to more than a plan. Three years later, Thomas J. Wilkie, a Secretary with the YMCA in Toronto and Brooklyn, revived the plan under the name of “Long Branch Park.” The newly christened Long Branch Park was designed as an exclusive summer resort for Toronto’s elite. The property was surrounded by a 12-foot high iron bound fence with the main entrance located just south of Lake Shore where a series of churches have since stood. Marked by two brick pillars, the entrance was locked at all times and monitored daily by a guard. The published plan for the Park was designed by Richard Ough. He laid out 250 wooded villa lots with a central hotel and a park pavilion on a property that ran roughly between what is today 33rd and 35th Streets. Much of Ough’s design was built-to-plan with one notable exception: the proposed railway station opposite the Park gates was never realized.

Station, Long Branch Lot 9 plan, 1887; Courtesy of Toronto Public Library Don’t recognize the street names on Ough’s plan? Long Branch Council changed the majority in 1935 to avoid postal duplication with the City of Toronto. There are a number of stories as to why Wilkie chose “Long Branch” for the name of his new summer resort, however, it seems most likely that the project was named for the famous seaside resort in New Jersey. By the mid-1880s, the American “Long Branch” was a well-established and widely popular holiday destination that featured several hotels and large estates. As the 1888 Souvenir Guide for the Ontario location emphasizes: “Long Branch has become the synonym for all that is desirable in the way of a summer resort.”

Delineating the northern edge of Long Branch Park was the east-west roadway known initially as “Lake Shore Road.” As the main thru-way, it became the central hub for the businesses that would serve the cottage market, including the dance halls, ice cream stands, soda parlors, and souvenir shops that lined the road. The opening of the Queen Elizabeth Way in 1939 had a drastic impact on the businesses along Lake Shore Road. With tourist traffic decreased, the kiosks and dance halls were slowly replaced by retail stores that focused on serving the increasing number of year-round residents.

QEW sign, 1940; Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

lake shore road.

In contrast to the coffee baristas of today, the beverage artist of the early-tomid twentieth century was the “soda jerk:” their specialty was the preparedon-premises (“pop”) soda, a concoction of flavoured syrup and carbonated water served in a specially-designed tall glass (ice cream optional) with a long-handled spoon and a straw. Louttit’s Pharmacy on the corner of what is today 35th Street and Lake Shore Blvd was a popular hangout for the youth of Long Branch. In 1944, it also served as the meeting place for two local love birds: Syd Cole and Irene Alice Green. Syd was a recently returned Air Force Flight Sergeant and decorated war hero who spent his time at the Loutitt’s counter eating ice cream after ice cream until he worked up the courage to introduce himself to the lovely Irene. Their soda fountain courtship would lead to marriage the following summer; the couple would make their home in Long Branch, taking up residence at 256 Lake Promenade.

Might’s Greater Toronto Directory, 1945; Courtesy of Archive.org Syd Cole Park in Long Branch was named in 2018

The central feature of Long Branch Park was undoubtedly the Hotel. Located at the foot of Long Branch Avenue facing Lake Ontario where the Lake Promenade Community apartment complex stands today, the Long Branch Hotel was a memorable stand-out from the small villas that made up the Park. Opened in 1887, the building featured distinctive pagoda towers and Japanese-style balconies. It was outfitted with all the latest amenities, including electricity, a series of speaking tubes that permitted communication between rooms, and a private telephone wire with direct service to Toronto. Daily rates at the Long Branch Hotel were $2.50 with a weekly stay ranging from $10-$15. Special rates were also available to families who stayed the season and to those who owned property in the Park.

Long Branch Lot 9 plan, 1887; Courtesy of Toronto Public Library

long branch hotel.

1887-1958. With the decline of the summer cottage industry in the region in the 1930s, the once exclusive Long Branch Hotel was transformed into a rooming house. Its story would come to a tragic end in February of 1958 at the hands of a two-alarm fire. Popular reports attribute the cause of the fire to a failed attempt to thaw frozen water pipes with a blowtorch.

Long Branch Hotel fire, 1958; Courtesy of John Stewart

park amenities.

Long Branch Park was designed as an all-inclusive summer resort complete with every amenity a vacationer could desire. Facilities were available for lawn tennis, lawn bowling, croquet, archery, quoits, baseball, and lacrosse. There was likewise a gymnasium and an outdoor pavilion with a hardwood floor for dancing. The area was heavily treed, with gravel walks lined with pine, oak, maple, birch, beech, elm, balm-of-giliad, and spruce; at night the main walking paths were lit by a series of electric lamps. At the site where Long Branch Avenue and Park Avenue meet, there was a fountain that pumped water from Lake Ontario (today the location of Long Branch’s first heritage tree). Lake Ontario served as a multi-purpose resource for swimming, boating, and fishing - not to mention the very first waterslide in Canada where vacationers could descend a sloped track on a toboggan. Inside their gated resort, visitors were protected from the temptations of alcohol: Long Branch Park was a strictly temperate enviornment during its earliest decades. Church services were held in the outdoor pavilion and both vehicle and steamship traffic were prohibited on Sundays.

Among the exclusive recreational activities available to visitors, Long Branch Park also boasted a rental program for the still-new activity of bicycling. “Psycho” bicycles - the first mass-produced bicycle for women which featured a step-through frame - were available through Mr. John Orchard of Toronto, the sole agent for the vehicle in Canada. Rental included personal instruction in the proper use of the new bicycles.

Souvenir Guide, 1888; Courtesy of Toronto Public Library Waif and Stray, 1896; Courtesy of British Library

“The forest choked by vines and the weeping willows by the creek hide any trace of the armoury and rifle ranges of the last century. This area was a hub of activity but mother nature and father time have a way of reclaiming discarded sites� ~ Pat Rice

pat rice. Pat Rice’s work has an air of mystery that depicts the strangeness within the world of everyday life. Through his strong sense of colour and use of familiar places, he shows a glimpse of life that is full of wonder and occasional humour. He has won a number of scholarships and awards, such as the G. A. Reid Scholarship (OCA), the Art Gallery of Ontario Award (OCA), the Art Gallery of Peel’s John Cutruzzola Award 2004 juried by Harold Klunder and Tobi Bruce (Curator, Art Gallery of Hamilton), and the Brampton Beaux-Arts Award 2010 juried by Charles Pachter and Daphne Odjig. Pat is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art and is currently a member of the Gallery 1313 collective. He has had artwork shown at Propellor Centre for the Visual Arts, Cedar Ridge Gallery, Fran Hill Gallery, Peak Gallery, Bau-Xi Gallery, Glenhyrst Art Gallery of Brant, Art Gallery of Peel, John B. Air Gallery, and You Me Gallery in Hamilton.

Beyond the Creek, Pat Rice

Generations of families spent their summers in Long Branch but the proximity to Toronto also made the area ideal for day visits and picnics. Church groups, companies, and organizations alike flocked to Long Branch for an escape from the city. At Long Branch Park, day facilities could accommodate up to 300 diners at a time in the outdoor pavilion with meals served from the steam carving table of the Hotel.

Long Branch Wharf, 1920s; Courtesy of Graeme Hogle

Several photographs displayed as part of The Cottage Years have been provided by local families with long histories in Long Branch. The image of a young Harold Snelgrove leaning over a chair with his golden curls in 1915 came to us via Harold’s daughter, Susan. She knows little about the context of the photograph and would be grateful for any information or memories visitors could share about the portrait of her father.

Communication can be relayed to Susan via the Lakeshore Grounds Interpretive Centre.


The men sitting on the wrap-around verandah are members of the Toronto Architectual Guild visiting the cottage of member Edward Burke in 1888. For his part, Burke left a distinct mark on Toronto’s landscape: among his best-known buildings were the Robert Simpson’s Department Store, McMaster Hall (today, the Royal Conservatory of Music), Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church, Jarvis Street Baptist Church, and the Prince Edward Viaduct (Bloor Viaduct).

Seated left to right: Back row: R. J. Edwards, William R. Gregg, John Gemmell, H. J. Webster Middle row: Edmund Burke, W. A. Langton, Henry Langley, H. B. Gordon Front row: W. G. Storm, S. G. Curry, N. B. Dick, James Smith

Toronto Architectural Guild, 1888; Courtesy of Toronto Public Library The photograph of the multigenerational card-playing family sitting out on a verandah (featured on the cover) was taken by William Braybrooke Bayley. Bayley was a successful Canadian composer who owned a cottage in Long Branch and dabbled in photography.

The characteristic “villa” or “cottage” of Long Branch Park featured the popular Queen Anne Revival style with turrets, peaked roofs, and large wrap-around verandahs. Each cottage was set on heavily wooded lots measuring roughly 50 feet wide by 100-150 feet in depth.

Long Branch Lot 9 plan, 1887; Courtesy of Toronto Public Library

cottages. By the early twentieth century the popularity of Long Branch Park began to spread outside of its gated walls. Over the years new subdivisions were opened: Pine Beach, located just to the east of the Park, was the first to be developed, opening in 1910 under Colonel Frederick Burton Robin’s model of a “healthy community.” Development continued, with The Pines (approx. 25th to 23rd Streets) and the Lakeshore Gardens Annex (approx. 29th to 32nd Streets) opening the following year. Expansion continued onto the floodplain of Etobicoke Creek with the area that became known as The Flats established on the eastern banks of the Creek, south of Lake Shore and the Pleasant Valley Mobile Home Park located on the western banks on the north side of Lake Shore. The golden age of the cottage era in Long Branch began to decline by the late 1930s. Long Branch had become an independent village at the beginning of the decade and along with the change in governance came by-law approvals for multi-family dwellings. The increased access to the area from improvements to the streetcar line also saw more owners converting their summer cottages to year-round homes; the opening of the Queen Elizabeth Way in 1939 officially signalled an end to tourist traffic in the area.

Long Branch Summer Resort Price List, 1889; Courtesy of Archive.org

The westernmost structures of Long Branch faced the most difficult challenges due to the flooding of Etobicoke Creek. A series of extreme floods through the 1930s and 1940s pushed waves of vacationers to give up their summer homes; but it was Hurricane Hazel in 1954 that crippled The Flats for the last time.

The Flats, 1923; Courtesy of Library and Archives Canada

hurricane hazel. Forty-three homes were destroyed in Long Branch by Hurricane Hazel. With more than 200mm of rain in 49 hours paired with winds that reached 124km an hour, the waters rose to fill three roads on the eastern bank of Etobicoke Creek completely: Island Road, 43rd Street, and 42nd Street. In the aftermath of the wreckage, 160 homes were expropriated in The Flats; Island Road and 43rd Street were eliminated to make room for the construction of Marie Curtis Park. The Park was created to help control future flooding in the area. At the height of Hurricane Hazel’s onslaught, a mother handed her four-month old daughter to a firefighter while she stood on the porch of her home along Island Road - located on the eastern banks of Etobicoke Creek. The home was swept away into Lake Ontario before the rest of the family could be saved. Nancy Thorpe, the only member of her family to survive the hurricane, would become known as the “Storm Orphan.” Seven lives were lost in Long Branch to Hurricane Hazel; a total of 81 across Ontario.

The Pleasant Valley Mobile Home Park was located on the western shore of Etobicoke Creek, north of Lake Shore Road, within the boundaries of what is today Mississauga. Like the cottages and cabins throughout Long Branch, the mobile homes were eventually converted to year-round dwellings for a number of families: in 1945 there were 20 families living permanently in the Park; by 1958 there were 367 permanent residents. Between 1967 and 1969, residents of Pleasant Valley faced a series of eviction notices from the City. The earliest among these singled out roughly 20 trailers that were not correctly connected to the sewage system; later notices argued a re-zoning of the region. Today a pair of apartment buildings at 1515 Lakeshore Road East in Mississauga stand on the former Pleasant Valley grounds.

Pleasant Valley Tourist Court and Trailer Park postcard, 1954; Courtesy of Chuckman Toronto Nostalgia


travel. Long Branch’s popularity stemmed from its proximity to the downtown core of Toronto. Whereas a holiday escape to Muskoka or the Kawarthas could be a time-consuming affair, Long Branch could be reached easily within less than an hour’s time. In the earliest years, the most popular way to travel to Long Branch was by steamer. Long Branch Park provided its own dedicated ship, The Rupert, which sailed from the bottom of Yonge Street to the pier south of Long Branch Hotel in 40 minutes with service six days a week. Vacationers could also book passage on popular Lake Ontario excursion lines which made stops at Humber Bay, Long Branch, Port Credit, Lorne Park, and Oakville: these included the Greyhound, the J. W. Steinhoff, and the White Star. In the summer of 1888, more than 50,000 people arrived on the shores of Long Branch by steamer.

Map, Long Branch Lot 9 plan, 1887; Courtesy of Toronto Public Library Long Branch Summer Resort Price List, 1889; Courtesy of Archive.org

Within a few years, streetcar service was extended along Lake Shore Road to Etobicoke Creek by the Toronto and Mimico Electric Railway. The private company operated a single, electrified line along the north side of the road, running open cars in the summer months for vacationers (two of which were double-decker!).

Mimico Trolley Stops: Stop 23: Long Branch Park (Long Branch Avenue and Lake Shore) Stop 26: Pine Beach (today, 28th Street and Lake Shore)

The Toronto Transit Commission took over the operation of the Mimico Line in 1927, creating a double-track and opening the Long Branch Loop in the following year. The TTC operated the 507 line between Humber Bay and the Loop as part of its two-fare system with travellers paying additional fare to travel east of Humber Bay until the early 1970s. In 1995, the 507 route was eliminated and the 501 was extended all the way west to Long Branch.

Doubling the tracks, Lake Shore Road at Brown’s Line, 1928; Courtesy of City of Toronto Archives

continued history? Among the many facilities of Long Branch Park was a Coney Island-style carousel that stood on the lawn, close to the shoreline of Lake Ontario. Illustrations of the period obscure the colourful creatures which danced in a circle to the sounds of a hidden pipe organ. In the early 1900s, as Long Branch Park began to decline, Wilkie began to sell his assets to recover losses - among them, the carousel. It is in the post-cottage industry years that the carousel appears to have taken on a new life in Port Dover, Ontario. Unconfirmed reports indicate that the carousel made its way to the summer resort town on the shores of Lake Eerie. Renovations in the past two years have revived the colours of the now century-old amusement and provided it with a fresh look for a new generation.

Carousel, Souvenir Guide, 1888; Courtesy of Toronto Public Library

thank you. We would like to extend our thanks and appreciation to the following individuals, families, organizations, and repositories for providing the images and artefacts included in The Cottage Years collection (listed in alphabetical order): Bernice Robinson Bill Zufelt British Library Chuckman Toronto Nostalgia City of Toronto Archives Durance Family Etobicoke Historical Society Graeme Hogle John Stewart Leslie Montgomery Library and Archives Canada Montgomery’s Inn Oakville Historical Society Pat Rice Raymond Cole Robert Lansdale Susan Snelgrove Toronto Public Library Wikimedia Commons Historical research is enriched by collaborative exchange - work on The Cottage Years has similarly benefited from the knowledge of many in the community. The teams at the Lakeshore Grounds Interpretive Centre and the Long Branch Neighbourhood Association would like to extend their sincere thanks especially to Jaan Pill and Denise Harris for contributing their historical expertise and guidance to this project.

Map, Long Branch Lot 9 plan, 1887; Courtesy of Toronto Public Library


Profile for Lakeshore Grounds Interpretive Centre

The Cottage Years: Exhibit Guide  

Exhibit Guide for The Cottage Years (on display August 21-September 28, 2019). The Guide takes inspiration from the 1888 Souvenir Guide for...

The Cottage Years: Exhibit Guide  

Exhibit Guide for The Cottage Years (on display August 21-September 28, 2019). The Guide takes inspiration from the 1888 Souvenir Guide for...


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