by Robert A. Given
Samuel Smith was one of Etobicoke's early settlers.
He was born at Hempstead, Long Island, on December 27, 1756.
His grandfather emigrated from the north of England about 1740
and purchased a considerable estate. Samuel had a half sister, Anne,
who became the wife of the Honourable Alexander Macdonell of Toronto.
Sam's father got him a commission in the Queen's Rangers of an ensigney.
In the American Revolution he was wounded at Brandywine
and promoted to a captaincy before he was twenty.
After the war he retired at half pay to New Brunswick,
then England from where he toured Europe.
Back in England he joined Simcoe's new Queen's Rangers as a captain.
This new corps of infantry was to come to Upper Canada and assist
in the erection of public buildings, the construction of bridges,
the formation of roads of communication and in any other civil
or military duties which His Majesty's service may require.
The original thought was they would devote 2 days a week on public works,
2 days on military exercises and 2 days for their private advantage.
In 1795 Abraham Iredell surveyed the "military lands" in Etobicoke
between Royal York Road and Kipling Avenue from Bloor Street
to the Lake. Sergeant Patrick Mealey was the first person
to receive a patent for land in Etobicoke, on March 18, 1797.
The Etobicoke Historical Society has a plaque on the wall
at the south west corner of Royal York Road and Lake Shore Boulevard
to mark that event. The Rangers were disbanded in 1802.
Simcoe placed these "military lands" in Etobicoke to protect
his new town of Toronto, which he called York, from a possible
attack by Yankees or Indians. Etobicoke even then
was the leading edge of Toronto!
What was to be known as the Colonel Smith Tract stretched
from Kipling west to Etobicoke Creek from Bloor south to the Lake.
Samuel Smith had a town residence on Richmond Street
and also a Park Lot which extended from Queen to Bloor in what
is now mid town Toronto. His Etobicoke home was just south of
Lake Shore Boulevard and east of Etobicoke Creek.
In 1804 when Etobicoke's population was 40 it included for
Samuel Smith 2 males over 16 years, 2 females, 2 male children
and 3 female children for a total of 9. In May of that year
Lord Selkirk of the Hudson's Bay Company and the
Red River Settlement wrote that he rode to Etobicoke
to breakfast with Colonel Smith. Robert Gourlay wrote in 1818
he visited Colonel Smith in his home, lonely and desolate on the lakeshore.
On 2 occasions Colonel Smith when our Lieutenant governor was out of the
province acted as president of the council, in effect,
chief administrator of Upper Canada.
In 1952 Colonel Smith's home in Etobicoke was demolished
to make way for a development. The Etobicoke Historical Society
placed a historical plaque in the nearby Dominion Store to remind us
of the landmark. Even the Dominion Store has disappeared.
In 1868 our Provincial Government decided the model farm west of
Queen's Park had to go. Tenders were called for a new site
within 10 miles of Toronto near a railway. Nearly 600 acres
were purchased between Royal York Road and Kipling north
of the railway to Evans Avenue. On November 28, 1871
contractors HJ and RT Sutton staked out the locations for buildings.
Then there was a change in the Government and what was to become
the Ontario Agricultural College was established in Guelph.
This year the OAC celebrates its 125th year of Achievement.
In 1887 the Government finally approved the Toronto Asylum
on Queen Street using part of the "model farm" property at Mimico.
The following year 10 patients were sent to
live there and practice agriculture. In 1889 they moved into the first "cottage" in what for years
has been the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital.
Also in 1887 the Government allowed the Victoria Industrial School
for bad boys to be located on the "model farm" property
to the west of Royal York Road. It had a
number of buildings
but closed in 1934. In 1918 a branch of the Guelph Reformatory
was established on the "model farm". Its facility included a brick
and tile factory using shale dug up in an adjacent field.
Etobicoke had some gambling dens in the 1930s and 40s
and the proprietors when caught were "sent
to the brick yards of Mimico".
The Lakeshore Psych began with 55 acres on the east side of
Kipling Avenue. The 2-storey brick "cottages" were to accommodate
groups of patients with specific illnesses. In 1903 an additional
73 acres were purchased on the west side of Kipling for agriculture
by the patients. In 1958 the Lakeshore Teachers College
was built on the north west corner of the property.
Four years later the RL Clark water filtration plant
was established at the south west corner of the property.
Humber College moved into the Teachers College building in 1972
and at the end of the decade the Provincial Government
closed the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital.
A book could be written about the Lakeshore Psych site happenings
and discussions during the past 20 years...
and the story would not be finished! The site now includes
the Colonel Samuel Smith Park as part of Crombie's Waterfront Trail.
The Conservation Authority has added 21.5 hectares of landfill
and created a 3.6 hectare wetland area. It is a popular spot for birders
and boaters. The Colonel Sam Smith Park was officially opened in
September 1996. Metro erected a very interesting plaque
on the boardwalk by the water. Kipling Avenue has been
extended into the park as is the Kipling Bus Route.
We suggest you add "visit Sam Smith Park"
to your list of things to do this year.