Place:Long Branch, York, Ontario, Canada

NameLong Branch
Coordinates43.583°N 79.533°W
Located inYork, Ontario, Canada     (1797 - 1967)
See alsoEtobicoke, York, Ontario, Canadatownship in which Long Branch located until 1930 and again after 1967
Toronto, York, Ontario, Canadacity into which Etobicoke amalgamated in 1998
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Long Branch is a neighbourhood and former municipality in the south-west of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is located in the south-western corner of the former Township (and later, City) of Etobicoke on the shore of Lake Ontario. The Village of Long Branch was a partially independent municipality from 1930 to 1967. Long Branch is located within a land grant from the government to Colonel Samuel Smith in the late 18th century. After Smith's death, a small portion of it was developed as a summer resort in the late 1800s.


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 Rangers in 1797, which eventually 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 after Col. Smith acquired additional parcels of land. 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'.

In 1887, the 'Long Branch Hotel' was built, set back from the waterfront near Beach Road (now Lake Promenade) and Long Branch Avenue. It survived until 1958 when it was destroyed by fire.[1] In 1891, the Long Branch post office was opened to serve the Long Branch Park summer resort. Beginning in 1910, Colonel Frederick Burton Robbins bought land from the Newborn, Appleby, Van Every Estates and other lots south of Lake Shore Road around Long Branch Park and began to subdivide The Heathy Home Lots were called 'Pine Beach' 'The Pines' 'Lakeshore Gardens' and 'Lakeshore Gardens Annex'. In the 1920s, the land surrounding the mouth of Etobicoke Creek, known as the "Etobicoke Flats", was sub-divided for cottages and housing.

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 current location of Long Branch Loop. In 1927, this line was amalgamated by the Toronto Transportation Commission (TTC) and double-tracked in 1928.

In 1915, the Long Branch Aerodrome was established to the west of the village in Toronto Township, today's Mississauga. The aerodrome was Canada's first and was operated by the Curtiss Flying School until 1917.

In 1924, the Long Branch Racetrack was inaugurated just north of the town at Horner Avenue at Kipling. It was operated by the Orpen family until 1955 when it was sold. The track was closed and racing moved north to Woodbine Racetrack. Today's Canadian International Stakes was initially called the Long Branch championship and run at Long Branch. The Cup and Saucer Stakes also originated at Long Branch.

The Village of Long Branch was incorporated in 1930, after the other lakeshore municipalities of Mimico (1917) and New Toronto (1920) were incorporated as towns. After the incorporation, some of its streets were given new names. 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 originally was the homestead built by Robert Eastwood on the occasion of his marriage to Elizabeth McGregor in 1911. Robert Eastwood died in 1925, and his widow, "Lizzie" sold the property and homestead to Paul and May Laurent of Church Street (now Royal Road) Mimico. Following the abolition of Prohibition, Paul and May obtained a liquor licence from the Province of Ontario and opened what would become a 25 room hotel with dining room and beverage rooms which would serve the people of Long Branch for 60 years until the Laurent family sold the business and property in 1987. 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.

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. The Small Arms Limited Long Branch Arsenal munitions factory was established during World War II to the west of the village, just north of the Aerodrome's location.

In October 1954, Hurricane 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 travelled 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.

More than forty homes in Long Branch were lost at the mouth of the Etobicoke Creek due to flooding caused by Hurricane Hazel. Long Branch's dead from the hurricane were: Mr and Mrs Ed Crymble and their daughter Clifford; Patricia and Robert Thorpe; and Mrs. Thorpe's mother, Mrs. Robert Johnston. The Thorpe's baby daughter Nancy survived. The baby had been handed to 17-year-old Sylvia Jones while the area was being abandoned. Jones climbed onto a nearby roof and the two were later saved by fire fighters. The Thorpe's house was one of the ones washed away into Lake Ontario. Nancy Thorpe was later adopted by her aunt and uncle. The O'Farrell family escaped when their house floated down the river, by climbing onto trees that their house crashed into. Thirty-five persons survived on the roof of one house that was held back from Lake Ontario by two trees the house had crashed into. According to Long Branch Reeve Marie Curtis, "if it hadn't been for the trees, which held the houses back, half of them would have been swept out into the lake." 147 cottages at the mouth were declared unfit for habitation after the flooding when sanitation facilities broke down.[2]

To prevent any future floods from having similar disastrous results, cottages and houses from the floodplain, the sand bar and around the mouth of the river were removed and the area was turned into parkland. In 1959, the park was named for village Reeve Marie Curtis in recognition for her longstanding municipal service and her efforts to have the park built. A trailer park north of Lakeshore Road, Pleasant Valley Trailer Park, was also destroyed when flooding caused a dike to break. The trailer park is now the site of Maurice J. Breen Park.

Forty-Third Street, along the eastern bank of Etobicoke Creek, was closed up and only a stub north of Lake Shore Boulevard exists. West of Etobicoke Creek and south of Lakeshore Road is Island Road, which today is an access road for parking and a boat launch for Marie Curtis Park. It was built in the early 20th century to serve the sub-division built on the banks of the Etobicoke Creek and an island within the channel of the creek. As part of the park development, the island of Island Road became part of the west bank of Etobicoke Creek, as the western channel was filled in. At the same time, a sand bar at the mouth was connected to shore by fill. The sand bar is Marie Curtis Beach today. Etobicoke Creek originally turned at a right-angle to the west at the shore, but now is channelled straight out to the lake. A new section of Island Road was built to connect to Lakeshore Road to the north, as its prior connection to Forty-Third Street on the eastern bank was closed.

After World War II, an influx of immigrants from Europe came to Toronto. 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.

In 1967, the Village of Long Branch was amalgamated with the Township of Etobicoke to form the Borough of Etobicoke. That year, the new GO Transit commuter train service was established and the Long Branch GO Station was built next to Long Branch Loop, connecting Long Branch west to Oakville and east to downtown Toronto. 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.

In the late 1980s, some industry started to relocate out of Long Branch. 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 limited commercial space.

Historical sites

These sites are located on the former Federal Government lands, located south of Lakeview and west of Long Branch, in Mississauga, Region of Peel.

Small Arms Limited, Long Branch Arsenal

Adjacent to the western boundary 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. The property was later used by Canada Post as a distribution centre.

The factory complex was demolished and the "Arsenal Lands" are now slated to become part of Marie Curtis Park West. The buildings of the office complex at the foot of Dixie Road have been saved for public use, while only the water tower remains from the factory complex.

Long Branch Aerodrome

The Long Branch Aerodrome was located west of Long Branch on the Federal Government lands in Toronto Township (today's Mississauga). The aerodrome was situated on a 100-acre property on Lakeshore Road just west of Dixie Road. The Long Branch Aerodrome has the distinction of being the first airport in Canada and home to Canada's first aviator training school. It opened on May 20, 1915, by Curtiss Aeroplanes and Motors Company for the Royal Flying Corps. Aircraft such as the JN-4 (Canadian) "Canuck" soon became a common sight at the airfield, which included three aircraft hangars.

In January 1917, the newly designated Royal Flying Corps, Canada, a 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 the 1950s.

Not the slightest trace remains of the airfield today. From 1958 to 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.

Research Tips

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.

Early Records

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.
Images and indexes of civil registrations for the "viewable" years can be found on paid websites, and indexes only on FamilySearch. The FamilySearch Wiki on Ontario Vital Records explains how these records are organized and their availability.
In September 2014 announced that its paid website has been subjected to a "houseclean" of its Ontario BMD database, adding data that had been omitted and making many corrections. Its provision now includes

  • Births, with 2,172,124 records covering 1869-1913.
  • Marriages, with 3,393,369 records for 1801-1928 including Ontario county, district and Roman Catholic origins as well as province-wide civil registration.
  • Deaths, with 2,190,030 records comprising Ontario civil registrations of deaths, 1869-1938 and registrations of Ontario overseas deaths for 1939-1947.

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 1921. 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.
Other websites, some paid and some free, also provide Canadian census originals and/or indexes online. One can also view censuses on microfilm at the LAC, at the Archives of Ontario (see address above), or at large libraries throughout Canada.

Hard-to-Find Places

E-books, Books and Newspapers

  • 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.
  • The Ancestor Hunt is a blog listing old Ontario newspapers that are available online, both free and pay websites. This is a very extensive list.

    === 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.
  • Digital Toronto City Directories. Toronto Public Library has digitized all of the Toronto city directories in its collections that were published between 1833 and 1969. Suburbs and separate villages which have now been part of Toronto for a century or so are included. All the directories can be accessed from this website. Some are PDFs published by TPL itself; others are on Internet Archive (and may be more difficult to access). There are no breaks between letters of the alphabet, and the street-by-street listings precede the alphabetical ones so it may take time to find someone with a surname beginning with L or M.
  • 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. This collection has moved to the main Toronto Public Library on Yonge Street north of Bloor Street.
  • There may be many other libraries and museums housing information for genealogical searching in Toronto and York Region
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Long Branch, Toronto. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.