Mount Dennis has the coolest museum in Toronto. InsideToronto profiled them this week.
Prehistoria is a museum devoted to weird and wonderful artifacts from around the world, and its sister store sells many of them, including cave bear molars, beaver teeth, and human bones and brains. If you’ve ever wanted to own an “overmodelled human skull from the Iatmul peoples of the Sepik River, Papua New Guinea”, you may only get one chance.
Prehistoria is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, from noon until 6 at 1193 Weston Road.
Weston has some old structures. Not that old compared to those in Europe, Africa or Asia but for North America, we have quite a few of historical interest.
Strictly speaking, Weston’s oldest structure is the Carrying Place Trail. This was used by First Nations people and explorers between 1615 and 1793. A plaque was dedicated by the Weston Historical Society in 2013.
Weston’s next oldest structure is the 1856 CNR (formerly Grand Trunk) bridge that crosses the Humber to the west of Weston and St Phillips. It was recently widened to accommodate the UP Express but the original structure still stands.
The next oldest structure is the long neglected Plank Road Building at Weston and St Phillips. This structure at 2371 Weston was built in 1841 and in recent years has stood abandoned. Someone obviously owns it and is paying (no doubt reduced) taxes on it.
Weston Presbyterian Church on Cross Street in Weston has an interesting history dating from 1847. The current version dates from 1880.
St John the Evangelist Catholic Church was established in 1853.
Weston Collegiate Institute has been going since before Canada was a country (not in the same building!) and is Toronto’s second oldest high school.
Weston Village is filled with fine homes and mansions, many dating from around the turn of the 20th Century. Generations of families have enjoyed these homes and their history once revealed can be fascinating.
Readers are invited to share their discoveries.
Close to 40 people braved chilly temperatures and cloudy skies to visit some key parts of our Weston neighbourhood. Organizers Cherie Hurst and Mary Louise Ashbourne led a well-attended Janes Walk today organized under the banner of the Weston Historical Society. The theme was one of renewal and there was a pervasive sense of a dynamic new Weston emerging after decades of decline and neglect. The tour started at the GO / UP Express station where local historian Mary Louise Ashbourne joked that Weston had suffered with lemons for years, but now, thanks to community activism, we were beginning to get some lemonade. Some of that lemonade takes the form of a fast, frequent connection to the airport or downtown for a cost comparable to the GO train.
Directly across the street is Frontlines where Executive Director Stachen Frederick welcomed us into the warmth of the clubhouse and described the large variety of programs for young people that are offered. These include a homework club, very popular cooking classes and a summer day camp. This year’s fundraising dinner at the Weston Golf and Country Club was sold out for the first time ever, raising over $20,000 that will help subsidize programming for the next year. Pizza from their cooking program was offered as an incentive to return following the walk.
After visiting the offices of the Weston Historical Society (WHS) at 1901 Weston Road, Deacon John Frogley Rawlinson outlined the history of Weston Park Baptist Church. The church is involved in a new venture under discussion for several years that will combine church lands with the empty ScotiaBank building that will be preserved as part of the development.
We crossed the road and walked north to 1976 Weston Road to Toronto’s longest running bookstore, Squibbs now celebrating 90 years of continuous operation and 84 years at number 1976. Co-owners, Mike Linsky and Suri Weinberg-Linsky greeted walkers and invited them inside.
At Weston Road and Little Avenue, Mary Louise stopped at the Carrying Place plaque (installed by the WHS) that marks the trail that ran along the Humber for hundreds of years linking Lakes Ontario and Simcoe, eventually hitting navigable water again at the Holland River. That would have been a tough portage as the navigable part of the Humber ended at the present day location of Bloor Street.
Weston’s old Federal / Post office building has been preserved and is now a medical building that has been equipped to serve the health needs of the community. Dr. James Crumney outlined the history of the building and some of its interesting occupants over the years including an RCMP detachment that kept an eye on postal workers via one-way mirrors.
At Fern avenue and Weston, Jessica Idahosa told the group about St John’s Anglican which is Weston’s oldest church having been in operation since 1856. It is now operated by the Victory Assembly under the leadership of Pastor Felix Ayomike whose congregation started out as a group of five people meeting in a private home. Incidentally, that’s exactly the way St. Johns began in 1856.
Moving along Fern Avenue, the Gardhouse home at 18 Fern and the LeMaire home at 57 George Street were occupied by prominent Westonians at the turn of the 20th Century. The Gardhouse home was saved from demolition as a result of WHS and community intervention.
Heading down George Street, Weston St. John’s School Community Social Planning Council co-chair, Dave Bennett outlined the huge amount of planning and work involved in rebuilding the school that will soon occupy the currently empty site. Because of expropriations needed for the UP Express, St John’s will be able to occupy a bigger site, hold more pupils and have a grass playground for the first time thanks to the Weston Tunnel cover.
Heading down George to King Street, Artscape Research and Development Manager, Gil Meslin outlined the new homes and community facilities that will house artists and even the Farmers Market when the new Weston Common is scheduled to be completed in 2018.
At the junction of King Street and Weston Road, our famous 103 year-old Carnegie Library still stands thanks to community involvement. It is a small but impressive building with is Arts and Crafts style and original detail.
The walk ended all too soon and was an exciting glimpse into the past, present and future of Weston, ending at the mural on the side of the Perfect Blend Cafe which like other such murals in Weston exemplifies the changes in our community over the past few decades.
The walk certainly illustrated that positive changes in Weston have been as a result of direct community involvement in the political process. Much of our history has sadly been lost but much has been preserved thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers.
We can only guess what future murals will look like but then, that’s up to all of us isn’t it?
On March 11, the Weston Silver Band competed in the annual North American Brass Band Championships and were judged to be best of ten bands in the First Section (think divisions) winning a gold medal. WSB was the only Canadian entry out of 33 other bands. In 2013 the band placed top in the Second Section; the first Canadian band to do so.
The Weston Silver Band has an interesting history. Before immigrating to Canada, George Sainsbury, started a band in the U.K which survives to this day. Once he arrived in our neck of the woods, he formed what began as the Weston Boy’s Band in 1921 and has flourished ever since, keeping its Weston links by performing annually in the Weston Santa Claus Parade. Although at the present time there are no members who live in Weston, the band is very proud of its roots in the Weston community and keeps extensive archives of its history. Practices are still held locally every week at the Salvation Army’s York Community Church on 1100 Weston Road in Mount Dennis. The band began to draw musicians from further and further afield from Weston beginning in the late 1970s.
For their upcoming performances, click here.
Band Manager Theresa MacDonald kindly sent me some archival photos of WSB that illustrate its proud Weston heritage.
Theresa tells me that when the band played in Gravenhurst last year, George Sainsbury’s grandson approached them with a music case belonging to the founder. This treasured item is now stored with the many trophies and other memorabilia gathered over the years.
The Weston BIA is looking for your help with their annual multicultural festival. The BIA would like community groups and organizations to show their support for the festival with a letter they can use to apply for grants.
“We’re doing this because it’s Canada 150th,” O’Sullivan said. “Right now there’s been so much said about divisiveness in our society because of all the stuff that Trump is saying and doing. We’re a very united community here and we want people to know that we welcome everyone.”
You can reach Marion at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hans Havermann has lived in Weston for more than half a century and writes a blog mainly about mathematics and puzzles. Occasionally Hans turns his powerful mind to local thoughts and happenings such as the Denison Road underpass, his neighbourhood, and Raymore Park. Like Weston Web, his blog has been going since 2010 and helpfully, articles are accessible by date and title so that readers can comb through the archives. This is a great site if you’re a fan of math and puzzles; an added bonus is the content of local interest.
Once Hans gets his teeth into something, he’s relentless. Sparked by a WestonWeb article on the proposed Wilby Crescent apartments, he wondered why its address is on Wilby rather than Hickory Tree where maps clearly place it. While looking for older maps of the ever changing streets of Weston, he found an article on the above photograph of bones discovered near Weston Road, south of Lawrence and decided to do some digging of his own (yes, I know). As a result of his research, he believes that the site of the bones was not as commonly believed at Weston Park Baptist Church but on a now demolished church property across the street on Bellevue.
You might want to subscribe to Hans’ blog and if you can help in his quest for more information, he’d be very interested.