by Robert A. Given
It could be said that Mimico began with John William Gamble
and the Parish of Christ Church.
He was born in the garrison of York in 1798.
His father was Dr. John Gamble, assistant surgeon
of the Queen's Rangers. John William operated a store
on King Street in York, first with his brother-in-law William Allan
and later with his younger brother William Gamble until 1827.
We remember William because he got The Old Mill
on the Humber at Bloor Street and was the first reeve
of Etobicoke in 1850.
In 1822 John William Gamble married Mary,
daughter of Dr. James Macaulay, and built a home
on a little wooded knoll on the east bank of Mimico Creek
a short distance from the lake. The next year he built
a sawmill on the west bank with a dam about
where the railway now crosses.
Stories of Mimico say the few workers at the mill
spent their Sundays carousing. In disgust the foreman
went to John William and told him to get a minister
or lead worship services himself. Church services may have
begun as early as 1823-4, perhaps in Gamble's home. By this time Archdeacon, later Bishop, John Strachan, his assistants and student were conducting
occasional worship, baptismal and other services beyond St. James' Church at York were records were kept of visits.
The Parish of Christ Church, Mimico, can be dated
from 1827 when the local residents began keeping records.
In that year 4 children of John and Margaret Peeler were baptised.
In 1831 the Rev. Dr. Thomas Phillips became the first regular minister of Christ Church and also at St. Philips Church at the north end of Royal York Road whose history was similar and almost as old.
He was also serving as vice principal of Upper Canada College
and chaplain to the Legislative Assembly.
In 1832 the Mimico congregation built their small frame church
with clapboard walls and small belfry on the east side of Royal York Road, land donated by John William Gamble.
The next year Edward Bewston and Ellen Talbot became
the first couple to be married in the parish.
The first annual vestry meeting for Christ Church
for which there is a record was held on January 1, 1834.
George Goldthorpe or Thomas Fisher was appointed
Rector's Warden and John Giles was nominated
to be People's Warden. It was also the year of the
first funeral when William Hopkinson, age 17 months died.
There was a strong feeling in Upper Canada in the early days that
the Anglican Church should be the Established Church as in England.
The lieutenant-governor on 2 occasions transferred lots
in the Kings Reserve between Royal York Road
and the Humber to Christ Church. When the trustees for
Lambton-Kingsway School bought the present site it was
from Christ Church. Also in the early days there were
annual town meetings when 2 wardens, pathmasters,
tax collectors, assessors, etc were chosen.
John William Gamble became a magistrate in 1827
and was chairman of the General Quarter Sessions
of the Home District from 1836 to 1842.
After Mackenzie's 1837 Rebellion David Gibson
was expelled from Parliament as a rebel and Gamble took his seat.
The Quebec Gazette reported "In the First Riding of York
supporters of Reformer James Hervey Price wore
white armbands and carried pistols to combat Tory
followers of John William Gamble." In Parliament
he was a supporter of Premier Sir Allan MacNab in
obtaining charters for the Great Western Railway
and the Hamilton and Toronto Railway.
From 1842 to 1849 he was on the Home District Council
as chairman of the standing committee on education.
He first represented Etobicoke but later represented
Vaughan when he moved to Woodbridge and established
a flourmill, sawmill, distillery and cloth factory at Pine Grove.
He also helped found the Bank of Toronto.
In 1852 the Hamilton and Toronto Railway Company
was incorporated and construction began the next year
with George Wythers of England as the contractor.
Service began on December 3, 1855 with 3 trains going
each way daily. Mimico station was on the north side
of the tracks just east of Royal York Road.
Sir James Lukin Robinson was ready.
On January 14, 1856 the plan of subdivision No. 164
was registered with him as owner. It was the 6th plan
for a subdivision in Etobicoke and was by far the largest
with many streets both north and south of the station.
Robinson's lands were on the east side of Royal York Road
extending from Mimico Avenue to north of the Queensway,
and east almost to the Humber at the lake.
The subdivision did not cover all his land and was not named.
Mimico Creek was identified as "River Mimicoke".
Later in 1856 surveyor Charles Unwin prepared a map of Etobicoke
and on it marked "Mimico Estate" with large letters north
of the railway and "Town of Mimico" with small letters
south of the railway.
Mimico for commuters was inspired by the Christian Socialism
movement in England as founded by the Rev. Charles Kingsley,
the Rev. Fred D. Maurice and others.
They wanted to aid the poor who were living in terrible city
conditions as portrayed by Charles Dickens.
New suburbs were planned with special thoughts
for the residents' social welfare, health and morality.
Lots were for sale in Mimico with modest prices and terms
but the collapse of the economy resulting from the Crimean War left the subdivision with many large
fields and few homes.
Sir James Lukin Robinson was the eldest son
of Sir John Beverley Robinson, possessor of one
of the most brilliant minds in the Family Compact,
a defender of British institutions, of the rights of rank
and property and of an Established Church.
On one occasion in England he dined William Merrys',
the Deputy Secretary of War, where he met
Robert and James Lukin!
Sir James Lukin Robinson as a youth was with
Sir Allan MacNab at Niagara when Mackenzie
fled to the US and the "Patriots" tried to "liberate" Canada.
In England the Robinsons were presented at Court by
Lord John Russell. Sir James became a barrister
of the Middle Temple while in London.