- source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
- the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia
The former Village of Long Branch is a neighbourhood in the south-west of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is located in the south-west corner of the former Township (and later, City) of Etobicoke and was a partially independent municipality from 1930 to 1967.
- the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia
Before Long Branch became a village, it was the home to Loyalist Col. Sam Smith, who was one of the earliest settlers in Etobicoke. His cabin was located near Etobicoke Creek and survived into the 1950s. Col. Smith was granted a large tract of land for his service in the Queen's Rifles in 1797, which extended from what is now Kipling Avenue to the original course of the Etobicoke River (now Creek), and south of Bloor Street to Lake Ontario. The southern portion of this tract would include all of Long Branch and the westernmost portion of New Toronto, south of the railway line.
The property was bought by James Eastwood from Col. Sam Smith's son, Samuel Bois Smith, in 1871. In 1883 Eastwood sold a portion of his land south of Lake Shore Road (now, Boulevard West) to a small group of financiers from Toronto. It was to be developed as a summer resort called 'Sea Breeze Park', and a plan of subdivision was filed in 1884. In 1886, the site was acquired by Thomas Wilkie and his brother and it was renamed 'Long Branch Park', after the seaside summer resort area of Long Branch, New Jersey where Thomas had vacationed. The central north-south street was originally named 'Sea Breeze Avenue', but was renamed as 'Long Branch Avenue'.
The 'Long Branch Hotel' was set back from the waterfront near Beach Road (now Lake Promenade) and Long Branch Avenue in 1887.
In 1891, the Long Branch post office was opened to serve the Long Branch Park summer resort.
Beginning in 1910, other lots south of Lake Shore Road around Long Branch Park began to be subdivided.
After the incorporation of Long Branch, some of its streets were renamed. In 1931, north-south street names were standardized by continuing the ordinal numbers of New Toronto's streets, picking-up at Twenty-Third Street in the east through to Forty-Third Street in the west. For example; Lansdowne Avenue became Thirty-Third Street and Lake View Avenue became Thirty-Fifth Street. Long Branch Avenue has remained the same (it could have been Thirty-Fourth St.).
Thirty-Seventh St. was formerly called Robert Street, after Robert Eastwood. Today, a drugstore is located at the corner of Thirty-Seventh St. and Lake Shore Blvd. West on the site of the former Eastwood Park Hotel, which Robert Eastwood opened in 1910. Today, other local streets such as James Street still bear names of members of the Eastwood family.
Twenty-third Street was called Government Road even after the 1931 incorporation, and west of the river there was Island Rd. south of Lakeshore Rd.which was a dead end street ending at the lagoon part of the Etobicoke River. The Etobicoke River turned and ran parallel to the lake shoreline for about a mile to its mouth. With hurricane Hazel the river broke through to the lake and the houses on that part of Lake Promenade St. and their access were lost at this time.
Incorporation and challenges
Long Branch was incorporated as a Village in 1930, after the other Lake Shore municipalities of Mimico (1917) and New Toronto (1920) were incorporated as Towns.
A cenotaph was raised on Long Branch Avenue south of Lake Shore in 1933 to commemorate the village's contributions during the First (and later, Second) World War. During the Second World War, many industries were opened between Lake Shore Road and the railway to the north as part of the Commonwealth war effort.
Hazel was particularly destructive in Toronto, as a result of a combination of a lack of experience in dealing with tropical storms and the storm's unexpected retention of power. Hazel had traveled 1,100 km (680 mi) over land, but while approaching Canada, it had merged with an existing powerful cold front. The storm stalled over the Greater Toronto Area, and although it was now extratropical, it remained as powerful as a category 1 hurricane. To help with the cleanup, 800 members of the military were summoned, and a Hurricane Relief Fund was established that distributed $5.1 million (2009: $41.7 million) in aid.
In October 1954, more than forty homes in Long Branch were lost at the mouth of the Etobicoke River by Hurricane Hazel, which caused the largest flood experienced to date. Long Branch's dead from the hurricane were:
- Mr & Mrs Ed. Crymble and their daughter; Clifford, Patricia & Robert Thorpe; and Mrs. Thorpe's mother, Mrs. Robert Johnston.
To prevent any future floods from having similar disastrous results, cottages and houses from the floodplain and around the mouth of the river were relocated, and the area was turned into a park. In 1959, the park was named for Long Branch Reeve Marie Curtis in recognition for her longstanding municipal service and her efforts to have it built.
The Long Branch Park Hotel was destroyed by fire in 1958.
In 1967, the Village of Long Branch along with the Towns of New Toronto and Mimico were amalgamated with the Township of Etobicoke to form the Borough of Etobicoke. The Borough became the City of Etobicoke in 1984. In 1998, Etobicoke was merged with five other municipalities and the Metropolitan Toronto government to form the new City of Toronto.
Although Long Branch had originally started as a summer resort with a seasonal population for many decades, the area today is increasingly centered along Lake Shore Boulevard West. It was originally developed as a commercial strip in the 1930s, with an industrial section added during WWII. Lake Shore Boulevard West today is a major thoroughfare and business strip in transition, with plans, some controversial, to change its character from a low-density industrial-commercial corridor to higher-density residential uses including some commercial space.
In 1895 the Toronto & Mimico Electric Railway and Light Company radial railway's single-track service was completed along Lake Shore Road from New Toronto through Long Branch to the Long Branch Loop. In 1927, this line was amalgamated by the Toronto Transportation Commission (TTC) and double-tracked in 1928. The streetcar line along Lake Shore Road became the 507 Long Branch route. Nowadays, most streetcars from Long Branch run through the Humber Loop along The Queensway and Queen Street into downtown Toronto, with some branching to other lines at Roncesvalles Avenue. The Long Branch Loop has been a local transportation hub since the early 20th-Century. The Long Branch GO Station, which is a stop for GO Transit commuter trains traveling between downtown Toronto and points further west, is located next to Long Branch Loop. The loop is also served by buses operated by the TTC and by MiWay, the transportation agency of the adjoining City of Mississauga. The destination signs of all buses and streetcars that are going to the Long Branch Loop read 'Long Branch'.
Community: Religious and Social Establishments
One of the largest Orthodox churches in Canada, St. Demetrius Ukrainian Orthodox Church (not to be confused with St Demetrius Byzantine Rite Catholic church, also in Etobicoke), was built on Lake Shore Road (now Blvd. West) opposite 27th Street in 1958.
Small Arms Limited, Long Branch Arsenal
Adjacent to the west side of Marie Curtis Park (now Marie Curtis Park West) in Toronto Township is the former site of the Small Arms Limited Long Branch Arsenal. The Federal Government had owned the lands south of Lake Shore Road, between the Etobicoke River to just west of Cawthra Road, from the late 1800s into the early 20th-Century.
The Ordnance Branch of the Department of National Defense authorized the construction of the factory in 1940. After transfer to the Department of Munitions and Supply, a Crown Corporation, Small Arms Ltd. was formed to operate the facility. By June 1941, the first five rifles had been produced. Huge quantities of British-pattern military small arms were manufactured there during the Second World War, including the No.4 MkI* Lee-Enfield bolt-action rifle, and the Sten submachine-gun (or machine-carbine).
Small Arms Ltd. ceased operations at the end of December 1945. Beginning January 1, 1946, operations continued as the Small Arms Division, Canadian Arsenals Limited. The factory was closed June 30, 1976.
Plans are underway to incorporate the former "Arsenal Lands" into the Marie Curtis Park West park extension; Marie Curtis Park West being located in Toronto, while the 'Arsenal Lands' are in Mississauga, Peel Region. The buildings of the office complex at the foot of Dixie Road have been saved for public use.
Long Branch Aerodrome
The Long Branch Aerodrome was located west of Long Branch on the Federal Government lands in Toronto Township.
The Long Branch Aerodrome has the distinction of being the first Aerodrome in Canada and home to Canada's first aviator training school. The aerodrome was situated on a 100-acre property on Lakeshore Road just west of Dixie Road in Mississauga. It opened on May 20th, 1915, by Curtiss Aeroplanes and Motors Company for the Royal Flying Corps. Aircraft such as the Curtiss JN-4 "Jenny" soon became a common sight at the airfield, which included 3 aircraft hangars.
In January 1917, the newly designated Royal Flying Corps, Canada, the forerunner to the Royal Canadian Air Force, opened the RFC Training Centre at Long Branch. The Long Branch training centre also provided instruction on flying boats at nearby Hanlon's Point in Toronto Harbour, the first seaplane base in Canada.
By July 1917, the flight school re-located to the Armour Heights Aerodrome. Long Branch became the Cadet Ground Training School for the Royal Flying Corps. Both the school and the aerodrome closed in 1919.
During World War II, the former aerodrome served initially as 21 Non-permanent Active Militia Training centre and then as an army small arms training centre. After the war, the Lakeview Armoury was established on the site, but was demolished in he 1950s.
Not the slightest trace remains of the airfield today. From 1962 - 2005, the waterfront portion of the property was the location of Ontario Power Generation's Lakeview Generating Station. In September 1969, a plaque was erected at the site to commemorate Canada's first Aerodrome.
Source Material: http://www.waynecook.com/apeel.html - Historic Plaques of Peel, information provided by Eric Gibson, The Mississauga Heritage Foundation (2004), the personal recollections of Tim Baetz, resident of Midland area (2004), "History of Canadian Airports" by T. M. McGrath, Ontario Power Generation web site - www.opg.com/ops/lakeviewfinal.pdf & the personal recollections of the author (2004).
The primary source for basic documents (vital statistics, land records, wills) for people who lived in the Province of Ontario is the Archives of Ontario, 134 Ian Macdonald Blvd, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M7A 2C5.
Civil registration did not begin in the province until 1869. Before then there may be church records of baptisms and burials. For the most part these are still held by the denomination who recorded them. Copies of marriage records made pre-1869 had to be sent by individual clergymen to the registrar of the county in which the marriage took place. These marriage records are available through Ontario Archives, on micorfilm through LDS libraries, and on paid and unpaid websites, but because they were copied at the registrars' offices, they cannot be considered a primary source.
Vital Records after 1869
Birth, marriage and death registrations are not open to the public until a specific number of years after the event occurred. Births to 1914 are now available [October 2012]; dates for marriages and deaths are later. Birth and death registration was not universally carried out in the early years after its adoption. Deaths were more apt to be reported than births for several years. The more rural the area, the less likely it would be that these happenings were reported to the authorities.
Images and indexes of civil registrations for the "viewable" years can be found on paid websites, and indexes only on FamilySearch. The latest year published is not yet available online.
The FamilySearch Wiki on Ontario Vital Records explains how these records are organized and their availability.
Land Records and Wills
Information on how to access land records and wills is best sought on the Archives of Ontario website. An ancestor's land holding might be found on Canadian County Atlas Digital Project if he was in occupancy circa 1878.
Association for the Preservation of Ontario Land Registry Office Documents (APOLROD). A list of Land Registry Offices for all Counties of Ontario.
The original censuses are in the hands of Library and Archives Canada. All of the original census (1851-1911) images are online with the exception of that for 1861. Not all of them are indexed. Later censuses are not yet available. Census divisions were redrawn as the population increased and more land was inhabited.
Other websites, some paid and some free, also provide Canadian census originals and/or indexes online. One can view censuses on microfilm at the Archives of Ontario or at big libraries throughout Canada.
E-books and Books
- The Internet Archive, particularly texts from Canadian universities, can contain interesting material
- Our Roots is a Canadian website similar to The Internet Archive
- Global Genealogy is an online bookshop specializing in Ontario material who will ship anywhere in the world.
Websites with more local information on the City of Toronto
- Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society. Serves the current City of Toronto including Etobicoke, York Township, Weston, Long Branch, New Toronto, Mimico, Swansea, Forest Hill, East York, Leaside and North York as well as the original City of Toronto. Contains a table of links to Toronto City Directories to be found online. Many other services and publications.
- History and Genealogy at the Toronto Public Library. Not the easiest website to find one's way around but contains some very useful material. Just looking though the old photographs in the Digital Library can be both interesting and informative.
- City of Toronto Archives. It has a vast digital collection of photographs online--many taken when roadworks were being planned and show a street's architecture, but the archive is also well worth a visit when in Toronto--it holds assessment records back to 1853, maps of neighbourhoods, and a library of local reference books.
- Canadiana Library at North York Public Library This library houses a wide collection of local genealogical material, provides microfilm readers for the Canadian census and for local newspapers, and is the home of the Ontario Genealogical Society's own library.
- There may be many other libraries and museums housing information for genealogical searching in Toronto and York Region