PORT UNION HISTORY
By Mary Miller
Port Union was a busy
little town in its early days. There were two hotels, a busy port and a
railway station. The main road leading into town divided Pickering from
Scarborough, and was called Town Line, now Port Union Road. On the east
side was the Township of Pickering, Ontario County; on the west was the
Township of Scarborough, York County. In the early 1970's this part of
Pickering, from Port Union Road to the Rouge River, was annexed to
Two of the earliest
settlers in this area were the “Annis” and “Adams” families.
(although the family name was spelled differently in the Ontario
Gazetteer) and Thomas Adams settled in Port Union in 1793 and 1808
Thomas Adams was a
United Empire Loyalist who came from Vermont. He was a carpenter and
built a log cabin overlooking the lake. He had six sons and two
daughters, and built the first schoolhouse in this area in 1836. He
captained a sailing vessel during the War of 1812 and at one point, was
driven to take refuge in the mouth of the Highland Creek. Fearing
capture, Adams threw his cargo of ammunition overboard. It is still
believed to be at the bottom of the swamp. In 1834 Adams built another
sailing ship at the mouth of the Highland Creek. He named it the Mary Ann.
With her he provided a trading service to local farmers.
Andrew Annis bought
100 acres from Tom Adams at the corner of Town Line Road and Concession
(Port Union Road and Lawrence.) There he built a fine stone house which
demolished to make way for the shopping plaza. However a fine painting
of the house was hung in the Port Union Library and photographs hang in
the Bank of Montreal.
population in 1857 was 47, supporting some 300 trades’ people supplying
lumber, grain, apples, potatoes and a mill that was operated on the
Highland Creek by Stephen Closson.
1869, the following excerpt appeared in “Anderson's Province of Ontario
Gazetteer and Directory”:
“Port Union, a village in the Township of Pickering, Ontario County, 12
miles from Whitby, the county town, and 17 miles from Toronto.
Annes [sic] A., farmer
Annes [sic] L., farmer
Brennan, W., telegraph operator
Chester, Isaac, farmer
Cowan, William, farmer
Dickson [sic] R. farmer
Dudley, T. G., farmer
Gibson, Robert, carpenter
Hemming, William, teacher
Laskey, Thomas, hotel keeper and cooper
McDonald, Alexander, farmer
Moon, Joseph, hotel keeper
Neilson, R., farmer
Pullen. Mrs. N., groceries
PULLEN, N. L. postmaster
Stratton, Alexander, agent GTR”
was owned by the Laskey family. From stories told by Mrs. Jim Johnston, a
descendant of the Secors who lived in the building, this was the place to
go in the late19th century. There was a very large ballroom and it was
fashionable for people to drive up in well-polished surreys or buggies, or
in cutters in the winter. The ladies would be handed down at the front
door, dressed in their finest: long flowing evening gowns and feathered
boas, fur capes and glittering jewellery. A groom took the horses to the
livery stable until the party was over. The hotel had been designated as
an historical site, but as happens so often with the fine old buildings of
Highland Creek and Port Union, fire ravaged it on December 29th, 1993.
railroad was being built, a few sections were constructed by Robert Dixon
There was a wharf where a 95 ton schooner was built.
was used by lake boats. They brought coal and wood into the harbour which
was used by the steam engines running on the Grand Trunk Railway Lines,
now part of the Canadian National Railway System. The railway built a
pumping station with a high water tower where every freight train's steam
engine would have to take on more water before continuing westbound on the
trip to Toronto. Here, also, they would have to get an auxiliary engine
which was referred to as the Shunter or Pusher. Sometimes this extra
engine was attached to the front of the train; other times at the rear so
they either pushed or pulled trains along the 700 foot grade to
Carson was Station Agent for years and his son Howard Carson operated the
pump house which drew water from the lake into the tower.
1927-8 Percy Tredway fell heir to the General Store and Post Office
building which had once belonged to his grandfather, William Tredway. It
was standing at the corner of Eglinton Ave. and Kingston Rd. He decided
to move it to Port Union.
moving of the building was done by Peter Heron of Scarborough Junction.
It was deposited in front of the cottage where he was living on the east
side of Town Line. The Tredways started an ice cream parlour in the
building with chocolate bars, tobacco in all its form, all kinds of soft
drinks, bread, butter, milk and some canned goods for sale. They would
bake pies, tarts, cakes, muffins, and scones to sell every week end.
People would leave standing orders for these from week to week or ask for
some special item to be made for them such as a birthday cake. The
demand always far exceeded both the supply and the store was a huge
Editor’s note: This
is the second instalment of the notes used by long time resident Mary
Miller for her school presentations over the years. Mary died on January
7th 2010 in her 96th year
Port Union in those
days had taken on a different flavour. It was quite a summer weekend
retreat for Toronto people. On a Saturday afternoon, dozens of men, women
and children would get off the train and proceed to their summer quarters.
Many had tents on the beach, mostly at the part which was immediately
south of the Tredway farm which was towards the mouth of the Highland
Hotel, which dated from 1860, was remodelled into a carpet factory.
However the building burned and the remains stood for many years known as
The Old Brick. The grounds remained idle for years until a part of it was
made into a baseball diamond. Here, young and old alike gathered for many
a hard fought game. The property changed owners several times and was
finally acquired by Johns Manville Ltd.
Residents spent hours
down at the lakeshore directly opposite the station where the remains of
the old wharf were. Arthur Bradley was a fisher man and his nets would be
hung on large frames to dry. Howard Carson also did a lot of lake fishing
and locals helped to bring in many of the catches.
The fish would be
packed in ice in large wooden boxes and shipped to Toronto or as far away
as New York City. It was nothing in the summer time to have a school of
eels come in close to the shore. They would sometimes latch on to one's
leg while swimming and were difficult to pull off because they were so
slippery. Eels are still a hazard to cross-the-Iake swimmers. Local boys
had many swimming races from Port Union to the mouth of the Rouge River
and back, a good two miles.
Over the years there
were several train wrecks. There was one in which the engine and several
freight cars wound up in the marsh on the Tredway farm. This train was
loaded in part with large rolls of news print paper. People came from
miles around to retrieve some paper. For years things were wrapped in
news print. It was also used for art work, paper sculptures and posters
and served many different purposes including picnic table covers.
In another wreck, a
load of grain was spewed all over the tracks. Yet another involved a car
load of cattle from the west. Several were killed out right, while others
ran loose around the country side. Some had to be destroyed. One drowned
in the marsh. These cattle were brought from western Canada by Robert
Dixon for beef purposes. He brought a car load every fall. Still another
wreck happened at a time when the rails were being replaced very near the
water tower at Port Union. Some how the brakes of the freight train did
not work and the train just kept on going past the end of the track onto
open ground. The engine dug itself in and several cars piled up. The
first car housed a race horse. Its groom was in the car with the horse.
He had just finished feeding it at the front of the car and had walked
back to his quarters at the time of the accident. The horse was killed,
but after a short time had elapsed, the groom crawled out of the wreckage
The lake level began
to change and the railway found it necessary to bring in flat car after
flat car of large stone slabs to put along the shore to stop erosion from
undermining the roadbed. At one time a person could walk anywhere on the
beautiful sandy beaches and venture out quite a distance on that same
sand. The water was very shallow a long way out and at waste depth the
gravel bottom took over. A large freight shed operated for many years
with local merchants in
Hill, Highland Creek, Dunbarton and other surrounding towns and villages
getting their merchandise shipped by rail to Port Union. They then came
by horse and buggy or horse and wagon in summer, sleighs in winter along
with the merry tinkle of sleigh bells. A flourishing coal business was
carried on here also. The local dealers originally had the coal delivered
to the port by boats, but this method was replaced by the railway. After
horse delivery became out-moded, trucks were used to deliver.
Trunk Railway had its name changed after World War One as it became a part
of the CNR -Canadian National Railway. The railway maintained a siding
here and all major repairs were carried on by crews of men who lived in
sleeping cars parked on the siding. There was also a special dining and
kitchen car to prepare their meals. There were bridge crews, painting
crews and roadbed and rail crews.
time the station was staffed 24 hours a day with the station agent during
the day time and telegraph operators, each working an eight hour shift.
Port Union was an important site on the CNR mainline. All train
clearances to allow trains to proceed both east and west bound had to go
through here. The crew on a train picked up telegraphed messages as they
steamed through the station using a net like a fisherman's landing net to
retrieve papers extended on a long pole. Going to Toronto Riverdale
Station by train from Port Union took about thirty minutes and the cost
was less than 70 cents return. Of course, if a larger fare was paid, you
could proceed to the Union Station. As long as the countryside remained a
farming area this was an important livestock shipping area -cattle, hogs,
sheep and horses were shipped out. Livestock were also brought in. From
the odd shipment, a few might manage to escape.
1920 some of the resident families of the village whose population never
exceeded 100 were Jim Johnston and his 2 sons Secor and Laskey (named for
their early family connections with the Laskey Hotel); Thomas Carson, wife
Minnie Barnes, 12 children: George, Beatrice, Howard, Mabel, Margaret,
John, Thomas, Audrey, Mary, Reta, Dorothy and Jean ; Charles Rate, wife
Mame White, 11 children: Charles, Mary, Annie, Thomas, William, Bertha,
Lillian, Nellie, Frederick, Joseph and Mabel; Seaman Beck (Railroad
section foreman) and his wife, 6 children: Sylvia, Mae, Verna.; Arthur &
Mrs. Bradley, 7 children: Balfe, Brock, Wallace (also known as Jim,)
Irene, Clare, Dorothy and Audrey.
family from Montreal spent summers in a home east of the station, south of
the tracks close to Chesterton Shores. The Langs from Toronto spent
summers next door to the Carsons. Hilliard Lang was Toronto Harbour
Police Chief for years.
Posted May 09
By Paul Lewkowicz
Lewkowicz, a past CCRA Youth Representative, has compiled some interesting
facts that look at who are the people living in the Centennial Community.
Paul recently completed a Masters degree at Queens University in Kingston
and is now a city planner for the Region of Peel in Brampton. He has
compiled this information from the Statistics Canada 2006 Census and the
City of Toronto’s Ward 44 and Scarborough profiles. A summary of
highlights follows. For those of you who like numbers and statistics, we
have also included additional detailed information below.
the Centennial community had a total population of 12,450, a decline of
1.4% from 2001. This compared to a 0.9 % increase in the city of
community has one of the fastest growing senior’s populations in
was the dominant home language of 96% of residents.
majority of dwellings in Centennial are owned and single-detached.
Compared to the rest of Toronto’s neighbourhoods, Centennial has a high
average and median household income.
Centennial Scarborough had a total population of 12,450, a decline of 1.4%
from 2001 (compared to the City of Toronto’s overall population increase
of 0.9%). The breakdown of Centennial’s total population in 2006 by age
group is as follows:
are working-age adults aged 25-64 (below Toronto’s figure of 56.8%)
are children aged 0-14 (above Toronto’s figure of 16.4%)
are youth aged 15-24 (above Toronto’s figure of 12.7%)
are seniors aged 65+ (below Toronto’s figure of 14.1%)
having a senior’s population (ages 65+) that proportionally is below
Toronto’s overall figure, Centennial recorded the fourth-largest increase
(35.0%) in seniors among Toronto’s 140 neighbourhoods between 2001 and
the most common majority home languages in Centennial were as follows:
residents spoke English (above Toronto’s figure of 64.4%).
spoke Tagalog (Filipino), 1.5% spoke Chinese, and 1.0% spoke Urdu
(widely spoken in Pakistan and India).
Toronto’s140 neighborhoods, Centennial had the 18th-highest
proportion of residents with English as their majority home language.
three-quarters (74%) of Centennial residents have European ethnic origins,
42% of whom have origins from the British Isles. This is in stark contrast
to Toronto’s overall population, of whom 72% have non-European ethnic
origins. (Please note, however, that these figures include residents with
single and multiple ethnic origins.)
the most common ethnic origins in Centennial were:
East Indian (1,230)
Approximately 35% of Centennial residents identified themselves as a
visible minority in 2006, up from 25% in 2001. This growing visible
minority population is mainly due to the large increases of two
populations between 1996 and 2006:
proportion of South Asians more than tripled from 4.0% to 13.1%
proportion of Filipinos grew from 0.2% to 5.0%
proportion of those who identified themselves as Black also grew, from
4.7% to 7.9%, while the proportion of Chinese grew slightly from 2.8% to
the proportion of visible minorities in Centennial (35%) is twelve percent
lower than Toronto’s figure of 47%.
Citizenship and Immigration
all (94.3%) are Canadian citizens (the 9th-highest figure in
one-third (35.3%) of residents are immigrants
are recent immigrants (arriving between 2001 and 2006)
comparison to Toronto’s overall figures, Centennial has proportionally
three times as less recent immigrants and one-third fewer total
immigrants. In fact, of Toronto’s 140 neighbourhoods, Centennial:
the most common source regions for recent immigrants in Centennial were
Southeast Asia, Southern Asia and Eastern Asia, which is consistent with
all of Toronto.
of Centennial’s dwellings:
all (94%) dwellings were owned
three-quarters of dwellings (80.7%) were single-detached homes
(50.0%) of dwellings were built from 1960-1980
one-third (31.1%) of dwellings were built from 1991-2000
Toronto’s 140 neighbourhoods, Centennial has the highest percentage of
slightly over half of Centennial residents are married (58%), nearly all
(94.3%) of couples with children are married.
Centennial has an average private household income of $99,376 (7th-highest
in Toronto and a median private household income of $117,586 (17th-highest
half (48.4%) of private households in Centennial earned an annual income
of $100,000 or more in 2005, the 6th-highest percentage in
Toronto. The incidence of low incomes among private households was 8.6%
(compared to Toronto’s figure of 24.5%).
of private household income groups, Centennial has a declining proportion
of lower income households but an increasing proportion of high income
households. From 2000-2005, the proportion of lower income private
households (those earning less than $30,000 per year) fell 0.2%. In
contrast, the proportion of higher income private households (those making
more than $100,000 per year) grew 7.6%. This trend may not necessarily be
due to upward mobility but rather could be attributed to wealthier
households replacing lower income households.
Education and Employment
is available at the ward level only. Notable ward trends are outlined
Toronto’s 44 wards, Scarborough East has the 2nd-highest
percent of work trips by automobile (78%) and the 4th-lowest
percent of work trips by transit (21%).
over three-quarters (83.2%) of Ward 44 residents had a certificate,
diploma or degree. Of these residents:
had a high-school diploma
had an apprenticeship/trades certificate or college education
had a university education.
comparison to Toronto’s overall figures, in 2006, Ward 44 had a slightly
higher proportion of high-school, apprenticeship/trades certificate, and
college graduates, and a slightly lower proportion of university
of employment, nearly seven of ten (68.9%) Ward 44 residents work in
Toronto, slightly above Toronto’s overall figure of 66%. The greatest
share of Ward 44 residents work in the business, finance and
administration (25.6%) and sales and service (21.4%) sectors, while the
others work in the manufacturing (11.0%), retail trade (10.5%), health
care and social assistance (9.9%) and finance and insurance (9.8%)
examining the above labour force characteristics, Ward 44’s trends are
generally consistent with those for all of Toronto.
of you who are interested in more information about our community or other
communities in Toronto you can check out the following references.
Statistics Canada 2006 Census
Toronto Neighbourhood Profiles:
Centennial Scarborough Profile: