Place:Swansea, York, Ontario, Canada

Alt namesHumber Bay
TypeNeighborhood, Village, City district
Coordinates43.646°N 79.476°W
Located inYork, Ontario, Canada     (1780 - 1967)
See alsoYork (township), York, Ontario, Canadatownship in which Swansea located until 1913
Toronto, York, Ontario, Canadacity of which it was a suburb and eventually a part
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names

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

Swansea is a neighbourhood in the city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, bounded on the west by the Humber River, on the north by Bloor Street, on the east by High Park and on the south by Lake Ontario. The neighbourhood was originally a separate municipality, the Village of Swansea, which was annexed by the City of Toronto in 1967.


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

The nearby mouth of Humber River was the southern terminus of the route First Nations people used to travel from Lake Ontario to Lake Huron, and the other upper lakes.[1] It is at this spot between 1615 and 1618 that it is believed that Étienne Brûlé was the first European to view Lake Ontario, with his party of indigenous and French explorers. The foot of the Humber was also the site of a French fur trading post.

When the fall of the French Regime came in 1760, Jean-Bonaventure Rousseau, a fur trader, of French descent, was trading furs at the mouth of the Humber River. The British Quebec government granted Rousseau a license to continue his trading in 1770.[1] In the late 1780s, his son Jean Baptiste Rousseau began developing a parcel of 500 acres around the trading post. Rousseau was living at his 'Rousseau House' when Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe arrived with the first English settlers for the new settlement of York and Rousseau guided the new governor's ship into Toronto Bay (now Toronto's harbour).[2] When York was first surveyed, the entire area along the Humber River was designated as a Mill Reserve (forest to be left intact for the use of the King's Sawmill. Rousseau refused an offer to relocate across the river to Etobicoke and left the area. Rousseau moved his main area of development to Ancaster, Ontario in 1795.[2] The site of 'Rousseau House' is today marked by a plaque.

By the 1880s, the mill reserve in Swansea was still unused and the area was subdivided into 'wood lots' (sections of forest to be sold to families living further away for use as timber fuel).

Through the 19th century the area later known as Swansea was divided between two farm lots:

The western half of Swansea became surveyed as lots 39 and 40. The lots were laid out south of Bloor Street, lot 1 starting to the east, and the numbers increasing in the western direction. Lot 40 was directly south-east of Jane Street extending east to where Windermere Avenue intersects Bloor Street. Lot 39, the next to the east saw the first development, on property owned by Mark Coe. By 1884, along Bloor Street, several blocks were subdivided as far south as today's Morningside Avenue, then known as Grenadier Road, and as far east as today's Kennedy Avenue. These are the only streets in Swansea laid out on a grid pattern, possibly because this section is relatively flat.

The eastern half of what is now Swansea was a forested lot purchased in 1838 by early Toronto artist, philanthropist and architect John Ellis whose home, 'Herne Hill', stood on Grenadier Heights overlooking Grenadier Pond. The north–south street that connects to Grenadier Heights was named 'Ellis' in honour of Swansea's first family. Despite the building of a railway along the south of his estate in the 1850s, Mr Ellis did not develop his lot. With the death of John Ellis' widow in 1884, the Ellis estate became the property of John Ellis Jr. who sold off the land to the north of Herne Hill. The house itself was demolished in 1925. of former Ellis lands on the east side of Grenadier Pond were bought by Toronto and merged with High Park in 1930.[3]

Windermere & Swansea

By the 1880s, the area south of Bloor was known as 'Windermere' after England's Lake District which it is said to have resembled. To the south, industry developed on Coe's land along the railway line, including the Ontario Bolt Works, just east of the Humber, which replaced a factory on the site of today's streetcar yards at Roncesvalles. Built in 1882, its cornerstone laying attended by Prime Minister John A. Macdonald, the factory lands extended north to today's Morningside Avenue. In 1889, the factory was bought by James Worthington and the name changed to Swansea Works, Worthington himself being from the Swansea area of Wales. The factory became the major employer in the area with subsidiary industrial lands to the north of today's The Queensway. A settlement of workers' cottages built by Worthington dating from the 1880s grew around the plant.[4] The factory, burnt down in 1906 and rebuilt, became part of Stelco in 1910, and it remained in operation until 1989.

In the centre of Swansea were several elongated ponds running north–south. The largest, Catfish Pond, is the only one that has survived. Some of the ponds were filled in for the railway line and industrial area. One of the ponds on the former Coe property, on the site of today's Swansea Mews public housing project, was turned into a dump and filled in with tailings.

By 1890, the area was known as Swansea, with a train stop on the Great Western at Windermere. The post office was in the Works building, and church services were also held there.[5] Worthington promoted the community, giving land for Swansea Public School in 1890 and the mission church.[4] Worthington's ownership of the Bolt Works ended not long afterward, and the Works was eventually absorbed into Stelco in 1910.

Village of Swansea

Swansea, including Windermere, was incorporated as a village in 1926. The largely forested village saw the building of many upper-middle-class homes on the former Ellis estate as a quiet 'leafy' neighbourhood developed.

The Swansea Village corporate seal reveals a great deal about the colourful history of the neighbourhood. Included on the Swansea seal is explorer Étienne Brûlé, who in 1615 became the first European to set foot on what is now Swansea and also shown is a First Nations member. This is symbolic in that it recognizes that First Nations members were the first people to inhabit Swansea, thousands of years ago. The hills in the Swansea Village seal represent Swansea's rolling countryside. The water in the Swansea seal refers to Swansea's natural boundaries, which include Lake Ontario, the Humber River and Grenadier Pond.

Annexation into Toronto

In 1954, the Village of Swansea left York County and joined the new region of Metropolitan Toronto. With the extension of Toronto's Queen Street and Queen streetcar line as 'The Queensway' following the southern limits of the village, Swansea quickly urbanised with many apartment buildings being built in the western half of the area. In 1967, Swansea became one of the two last independent villages (along with Forest Hill) to be annexed by the City of Toronto. The annexation of Swansea into Toronto was a contentious one, with many local residents opposed to the move. A common refrain before and during the annexation was that the area was "not Toronto".

The small strip of industrial land housing the former wire works between The Queensway and Lake Shore Boulevard has been largely redeveloped as a high-density residential mix of towers and townhouses.

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 York County (York Region) ===


  • 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.
  • Heritage Toronto has a large website and newsletter outlining Toronto's history and includes a series of links to other organizations.
  • There may be many other libraries and museums housing information for genealogical searching in York County or York Region including others with more of a Toronto bias.
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Swansea, 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.