New Toronto is a neighbourhood and former municipality in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is located in the south-west of Toronto, along Lake Ontario. The former town of New Toronto was established in 1890, and was designed and planned as an industrial suburb by a group of industrialists from Toronto who had visited Rochester, New York. New Toronto was originally a part of the Township of Etobicoke. It was an independent municipality from 1913 to 1967, one of the former 'Lakeshore Municipalities' amalgamated into the Borough of Etobicoke, and eventually amalgamated into Toronto.
The largest farming families in what would become New Toronto were the Northcote family to the east around where Seventh Street/Islington Avenue meets Lake Shore Blvd. West today, and the Goldthorpe family to the west at Mimico Avenue (now Kipling Avenue) where the Mimico Lunatic Asylum was later built.
In the 1880s, a farm south of the Lake Shore Road and east of Mimico Avenue (Kipling Avenue) was purchased by the Ontario Government. In 1888, it became the campus of the Mimico Lunatic Asylum (later known as the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital). It was built to alleviate overcrowding at Toronto's Asylum on Queen Street West (later known as Queen Street Mental Health Centre, and now the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health).
In 1890, a plan of subdivision was filed by a group of industrialists and the first streets laid out in what is now New Toronto by the Mimico Real Estate Security Company. With the first industries in New Toronto already operating, or to be operational by the end of 1890, New Toronto was promoted with the publication of an article in the October 25, 1890 edition of the Toronto Globe newspaper (now the Globe & Mail) entitled "Toronto's Growing Suburb - New Toronto - As it is and what it will be". New Toronto, as an industrial centre "was expected to rival - if not exceed - 'old' Toronto in manufacturing output". A few worker's homes were built on early streets north of Lake Shore Road while development proceeded slowly.
John Sheane's Hotel (later, The New Toronto Hotel and the Almont Hotel) was located across from the Asylum grounds at Mimico Avenue (Kipling Ave.) and The Lake Shore Road (now Lake Shore Blvd West). In 1892, a post office was established in New Toronto. The next year, the pastor of Mimico's Methodist Church began holding separate services in New Toronto, establishing a church building as a branch of Mimico's new Methodist Circuit in 1909.
The Mimico Yard (the former Grand Trunk Railway freight yards) was established in 1906, encouraging many more industries to relocate to New Toronto. The same year a public school was established on Sixth Street. A proper school house was opened in 1909 on Fifth Street (Fifth Street Public School). By 1911, an Anglican church had been completed in New Toronto called St. Margaret's.
1913-1953: The town of New Toronto
In 1913, New Toronto was incorporated as a separate village, with a population of 500. In 1915 the Methodist church became a separate Methodist Parish from Mimico. 1916 saw a referendum on joining New Toronto to Mimico which passed in Mimico but was defeated by New Toronto residents.
With the First World War raging, new industries arrived in New Toronto - most notably The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company established a plant in New Toronto in 1916-17 that quickly became the town's largest employer. Other major industries included: Canadian Industries Limited (1915), Anaconda American Brass Company of Canada (1922, after taking over the operations of Browns Copper & Brass Rolling Mills Ltd., 1915), Campbell Soup Co. of Canada (1930), W & A Gilbey Ltd. distillery (1933), and the Continental Can Company of Canada Ltd. (1936).
By 1927 a new school was needed and Seventh Street Public school was opened.
With the creation of the United Church of Canada after the union of the Methodist, Congregational and Presbyterian Churches, the New Toronto Methodist Church opened a new church building, the first to be built specifically as a United Church, called the Century United Church.
In 1929, the New Toronto fire station was built. Designed in an Italianate style, it was also used as the Town Hall for a time. It is still a fire station today. At the same time, the new mayor William Jackson donated land for a Public Library Building. Jackson would go on to be mayor almost continuously until 1952. He also served as Warden of York County (leader of the Regional Government). In 1930, the Campbell Soup Company Ltd. had arrived in New Toronto commissioning architects Mathers and Holdenby to build an Art Deco factory at 60 Birmingham Street (c. 1931). In 1947 the Fifth Street Public School burned down and was replaced with the new Second Street Public School.
1953 to present: Metro Toronto and new City of Toronto
In 1953 the Lake Shore municipalities (Mimico, New Toronto, Long Branch) were separated from York County along with the other municipalities south of Steeles Ave to create a new 'urban' region: Metropolitan Toronto (Metro). Each municipality retained its own town council and government, but several infrastructure departments were transferred to Metro. This lasted until 1967, when the number of municipalities in Metro was reduced. In 1967 New Toronto was amalgamated with the other Lake Shore municipalities (Mimico and Long Branch) back into Etobicoke to create the Borough of Etobicoke. Etobicoke later became a city in 1984. In 1998, Etobicoke was amalgamated with the other municipalities of Metropolitan Toronto to form the new City of Toronto.
In New Toronto, to serve the large local population of Ukrainians who had settled in New Toronto over the years, St. Michael's Ukrainian Catholic Church was built in 1954 on Sixth Street (just north of St. Margaret's Anglican Church). While many Ukrainian and Polish immigrants lived in New Toronto and surrounding communities beginning early in the 20th Century, more arrived after the Communist Bloc collapsed in 1989.
Growing freight traffic in the Toronto area necessitated the creation of an amalgamated facility and a by-pass of the congested Toronto Terminal downtown. In 1965, a new rail freight facility, first named Toronto Yard and then MacMillan Yard, was opened north of Metro Toronto. The local Mimico rail yard was downgraded considerably, resulting in the dislocation of much employment. At the same time the Toronto By-Pass line allowed for the creation of GO Transit commuter train line between Oakville and Pickering. GO named its facility Willowbrook, after the nearby Willowbrook Road. Old CNR facilities in Mimico Yard were used for the startup of this trial train service. Its subsequent growth has resulted in new facilities being built for GO. In 1985, Via Rail facilities at Spadina Avenue were relocated from downtown Toronto to New Toronto's underused former Mimico Yards at the newly completed Toronto Maintenance Centre (which would have its major operations moved to Quebec just a few years later).
An upheaval came in May 1987. Goodyear Canada Inc., which was the largest employer in New Toronto, shut down its plant contributing to a general loss of employment in the area. The lands are now the site of townhouses, condos, and a playing field. New Toronto's library branch was demolished in 1993 to be replaced with a new building.
Recent attempts to rejuvenate New Toronto include the protection of remaining industrial lands for employment. The former Mimico Lunatic Asylum buildings and grounds became the new site of Humber College's Lake Shore campus. The new Lakeshore Lions Arena was constructed on the former W & A Gilbey distillery site.
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 1915 are now available [October 2014]; 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.
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, known to Canadians as "LAC". Copies of original microfilms are online at the LAC website for all censuses up to 1911. Each census database is preceded with an explanation of the geographical area covered, the amount of material retained (some census division material has been lost), the questions on the census form, and whether there is a name index. Census divisions were redrawn as the population increased and more land was inhabited. The 1921 census is only available through Ancestry.ca, but it is free-to-view.
E-books and Books
Websites with more local information on the City of Toronto