Scarborough is rich in history, here are some articles
from various sources, about interesting sites, in and around
our community, some of which remain to this date.
Excerpts from Scarborough Historical
located at Kingston Rd. and Meadowvale.
At the corner of Meadowvale and Old
Kingston Road is a beautiful old building. This was the finest store in
the district when it was built in 1890 and owned by William J. Morrish.
William was the first surviving son of John Morrish, who was born in Ohio.
At the time, Highland Creek was a farming community and the Morrish
building provided space for living, sales and storage. The Morrish
business included hardware, dry goods, boots, shoes, farm machinery and
groceries with flour, sugar, tea and salt being a small part of the
By 1914, William Morrish installed a fuel pump when the automobile started
to replace the horse as a means of transport. This was the only pump
between Toronto and Whitby. Gas was 17 cents a gallon. The retailer
profited by 3 cents.
William turned the business over to his sons, Roy and Charles. William
Morrish died in 1924. Roy left to open his own business and Stuart and
Florence with their 3 children moved in and ran the store until 1967.
During the depression merchants found it difficult since they often had to
wait for two months for money and cash flow was difficult.
Rationing of sugar, tea, butter coffee and meat came after the war in 1939
and Sundays were spent sticking hundreds of ration stamps to gummed
To read an update about the fate of the
Morrish store, click here.
located at Centennial Rd and Clyde.
As we head into fall, we think of apples.
In our community there remains one of the most beautiful apple orchards.
Not enough has been written about a fifty-acre farm on Centennial Road.
The farm belongs to Cameron Watson, a long time resident of our community.
Beatrice and Cecil Watson originally bought the farm in 1921 from the
Stanley Piano Company. Originally there were seven or eight acres of
orchards that increased to thirty-five acres over the years. During the
years of the depression apples were difficult to sell and the market
didn't improve until after the war. By 1996 production reached ten
thousand bushels of number one grade apples and business was good thanks
to a long term association with Dominion stores which started in 1947.
Prosperity continued until 1970 when Mrs. Watson died.
Cameron was considered a joint owner when his mother died but his status
was never registered legally. A costly legal battle followed and the Death
Duty laws of 1970 forced the sale of the family farm except for the
remaining four acre parcel where the house stood.
This information for this article was taken from a book called Fact and
Folk Lore that was written by John R. Spilsbury who still lives in
Highland Creek. I am advised that the book has recently been published
again and is available at the Albion Book Store in Highland Creek
Village. This book deals exclusively with West Hill, Highland Creek, Port
Union and Hillside.
located at Kingston Rd, east of Meadowvale.
Situated on Kingston Road at the eastern
end of Highland Creek is Centennial-Rouge United Church. The Gothic
Revival style in church architecture, so prominent in Scarborough in the
latter half of the 19th century is evident in this building.
Methodism is said to date back into the 18th century, prior to the
American Revolution. John Wesley was primarily responsible for the
formation of this religious group, but after his death in 1791, several
groups seceded from the main body and formed other societies, including
Primitive, Bible Christian and Wesley Methodist. In Highland Creek, two of
these societies were established by the middle of the 19th century. Here
the local Wesley's erected a frame church and on the Scarborough-Pickering
Town Line, near the Rouge Valley, the bible Christians arrested a large,
stone edifice. Both served modest congregations until 1891 when it was
decided to join the two. On land donated by the Knowles family, the
combined congregation erected a new building.
To commemorate the centennial of the death of John Wesley, the new
building was named the Centennial Methodist Church. In 1925 the
congregation joined the United Church and the building now serves at the
Centennial-Rouge United Church.
Highland Creek Village
This article is courtesy of Clancy Delbarre
and was published in the CCRA for the Heritage Day Issue September 28,
1986. With Mr. Delbarre's permission, I have brought the article up to
date for Heritage Day. Dorothy Clieff
Highland Creek had its start shortly after Scarborough was first laid
out and surveyed in 1793. More people began to settle in the area,
land was cleared and roads were built to link up with other towns and
Military Trail is a remnant of the first highway to be built in
Scarborough in 1799 by Asa Danforth. It ran from King Street at the
Don River through to Port Union. The original route can be traced
today along Danforth Road, Painted Post, Military Trail and Colonel
A second highway, Kingston Road, originally called Front Road was
built in 1801 and ran from Markham Road through the valley and the
In the early 1800's the Village became identified as a distinct
settlement. Some of the early pioneers in the area include Isaac
Secord; John Closson whose son operated a sawmill on the Highland
Creek; James and John Richardson who settled here in 1806; Samuel
Heron whose name is commemorated by Heron Park; Jordan Post who built
a sawmill and general store after arriving in 1834. William Helliwell
who built a gristmill in the valley around 1850 and his descendants
still live in Highland Creek. The homes on Scenic Hill Court are on
the Helliwell property.
John Morrish arrived in 1855. W.J. Morrish built a store at Meadowvale
and Kingston Road which today remains very much as originally built (a
confidential report is to be submitted to the Corporate Services
Committee Meeting on May 20/99 on the future of this building).
Scarborough Township was incorporated in 1850 and had a total
population of 3820 of which 250 resided in Highland Creek. By 1885
Highland Creek was the largest commercial center in all of Scarborough
with 600 inhabitants and included several churches, a blacksmith,
gristmill, sawmill and a number of other businesses. By 1896
Helliwell's Chopping Mill and Cider Mill, a hotel, three stores, a
blacksmith shop, three churches and a Mechanics Institute Library were
The old Methodist cemetery in the Village dates back to the early
St. Joseph's Church built in 1854 and rebuilt in 1964 is the second
oldest Catholic Church in Scarborough.
In 1852 Highland Creek became the site of the second post office to be
built in Scarborough, amongst one of the earliest in all of Canada.
The library officially opened in 1890 and from various locations in
the Village has served residents of the community. For a number of
years after 1947 it was operated by one of the residents in her own
home until a new library was constructed. The library moved from
Kingston Road in the Village to its new location at 3550 Ellesmere
Road in August 1994.
What is now the Private Eyes dates back to 1865 and has been known
under various names throughout the years; Commercial Hotel, Maxwells,
Running Pump, Foresters and the Marquis Tavern.
Pictured below is one of the murals
from the Heritage Trail. This one was created by John Hood, and is
reproduced here with permission from The Mural Routes web site where
you can find images of all of the murals on the Scarborough Trail in
their Heritage Trail section -
This mural recreates a scene showing members of the Highland Creek
community working together to build an addition to the Wesley
Methodist Chapel in the early winter of 1867. The chapel once stood
adjacent to the mural site amongst the tombstones of the pioneer
Although the Thomson family can arguably
be considered the first family to settle in the old Township, and the
first post office was opened at Scarborough Village, the first true
'community' to be established was at Highland Creek. The community
originally stretched from the Pickering border west to Galloway Road.
Prior to any settlement, Elizabeth Simcoe, in describing the Township of
Glasgow (as Scarborough was first called), referred to the "high lands of
Toronto". The river flowing through the high land became known as the
William Knowles emigrating from New Jersey
in 1802, was forced to stop near what is now Grimsby where his wife gave
birth to their eighth child. Knowles moved on ahead and in October, 1802
bought a 200 acre lot from Joseph Ketchum who had settled in the area of
Highland Creek a few years earlier. Family stories handed down through
the generations indicated that Knowles was expecting a house with the land
but found only a roofless log shanty. His first days in Scarborough may
well have been spent under the tall pines.
Knowles was a blacksmith and built the
Township's first smithy, making the nails for the first frame barn in
Scarborough and planting one of the first orchards. His son, Daniel, kept
the first store in Highland Creek, was a Commissioner for the
straightening of Kingston Road in 1837 and was a prominent member of the
Scarborough, Markham and Pickering Wharf Company which did an excellent
business in shipping grain, timber and cord wood from Port Union to
Oswego, New York and other Lake Ontario ports.
The combination of the Kingston Road, the
old Danforth Road and the Highland Creek coming together in one location
encouraged the village's rapid growth in the early 19th century. Saw
millers, grist millers, cobblers, merchants, coopers, tanners,
blacksmiths, ship builders, and a host of other tradesmen helped build the
community and in time it boasted churches from all major denominations
including the first Roman Catholic Church (St. Joseph's) and the first
Anglican Church (St. Margaret's) in Scarborough.
The community's first school serving what
was then known as School Section # 7, was erected in 1844 on the west side
of the Highland Creek Valley, but a new, larger frame school was erected
in the valley in 1870. As the community grew after the turn of the
century, a new brick school was built in 1918 and became known as Highland
Creek Public School. As of 2003, it was still standing, as one of the
oldest school buildings in Scarborough still in use as a regular public
Port Union / West
Union was also part of the Highland Creek community. (Although most of
the buildings were across the Town Line in Pickering.) Port Union was
located in the south east corner of Scarborough, at Lawrence Avenue and
Port Union Road. In 1865 a post office opened in Port Union Station.
Early 19th century businesses in the area included the Scarborough,
Markham, and Pickering Wharf Company (est. 1847), and hotels operated by
Will Hetherington and Thomas Laskey.
The West Rouge community, a modern
name associated with Port Union, was originally part of Pickering.
Scarborough annexed the West Rouge in 1973 following several years of
negotiations. There were concerns about meshing taxation and other
costs to the municipality that had to be addressed following the initial
annexation discussions in 1969. The West Rouge was east of the
town line and west of the Rouge River containing 857 acres and a
population of 3,414 at the time of annexation.
For the end
of the year I think that it is important to focus on one of the most
significant buildings in Scarborough's history.
This is the Halfway House. It stood midway between Pickering and Toronto,
at what is now Midland Avenue and Kingston Road. The Mortlake Post Office,
which opened in 1865, was located in the Hotel. The post office was
short-lived and when Scarborough Junction was established in the 1870's
the name was soon forgotten. After the hotel business waned, large rooms
upstairs in the former hotel served as a classroom, church and community
meeting hall while the main floor was converted to commercial use.
Although the community now carries the name Cliffside, the Halfway House
Hotel was not forgotten. Having served Scarborough for more than a
century, the building was dismantled in 1962, moved, and rebuilt as the
focal point of the Black Creek Pioneer Village. At that time, the frame
building had seen better times and rather that see the building
demolished, it was relocated. Today, a walk through the door of the hotel
at Black Creek, is like a step back in time. Consider visiting the Village
over the holiday season to experience what it was like in 19th century
used to be located west of Port Union Rd. south of
Johns-Manville before 1992
In May 1948, big industry came to Port Union on the historic Dixon farm
land. For a relatively poor township, this was good news at the time.
The company employed 350 people and created much needed tax dollars. When
people complained of the linseed oil smell from the rock wool
manufacturing process, a new 200 foot poured concrete smoke stack was
built in 1949 to replace the 50 foot metal one. At the time, environment
protection was a concern to Johns-Manville. The one million gallons of
water used daily in manufacturing was returned to the lake purer than when
they took it in. What Johns-Manville did was environmentally acceptable
and within the limits of the legislation at the time they conducted their
operations. They also exceeded government standards due to sophisticated
emission and dust control procedures.
Johns-Manville supported many local community projects and had two soccer
fields and a baseball diamond until only a few years ago.
From 1956 to 1972 the company experienced tremendous growth. It became
the most modern production centre for Fiber Glass and Transite Pipe in the
country. Strands of molten glass were fiberized into Fiber Glass
insulation and a wet mixture of Asbestos cement was transferred to a
cylinder to make Transite pipe. The number of revolutions of the cylinder
determined the thickness of the pipe before it was steam cured and
machined to specifications. The Transite facility was the first one
in Canada. In 1972 the plant housed seven major productions units
and had an annual payroll of $7.5 million with production of
Lakefront as it appears today.
Charlottetown Junior Public School
school opened in Sept. 1968 with principal C. McCormick experimenting with
sex-segregated classes in the primary level. All boy classes and all girl
classes made up the grade 1 and 2 classes as McCornick experimented. I
don't know how long the experiment lasted or whether or not it met with
The school started with 12 classrooms and a kindergarten. An addition of 8
more classrooms and another kindergarten was completed in October, 1971.
The school was originally a K-8 school but was converted to a Junior
school in 1978 when Joseph Howe S.P.S. opened.
The school held its 25 anniversary on May 8th, 1993.
Former principals included: McCormick (1968-71), Rod Mason (1971-72), John
Barker (1972-77), Jim Farquhar (1977-1982), Stu Corbett (1982-1989), Bill
Sparks (1989-94), Bob Thorpe (1994-96) and Larry Horler (1996- ).
The community was built on the former Annis farm and since much of the
planning and construction took place in 1967, the community was named in
honour of the 100th anniversary of Canada's Confederation. The Charlottetown
Conference gave the community, street and school its name. Other street
names recognize several of Canada's 1867 Fathers of Confederation: D'Arcy
McGee, Samuel Tilley, J.C. Chapais, Ambrose Shea, Hector Langevin, Thomas
Haviland, J. Cockburn, Charles Tupper, J. McCulley. Oliver Mowat was also
recognized in the naming of the Collegiate Institute.
Centennial Road is often mistakenly associated with this street name
program but despite the fact that the community was named in recognition
of Canada's Centennial, Centennial Road was actually named in recognition
of the 100th anniversary of the death of John Wesley in 1891. Wesley
founded the Weslayan Methodist Church and "Centennial" church at Kingston
Road at Centennial Road was built in 1891. The church was named to honour
its founder and Centennial Road named after the church.
Abstracted from Scribe, which is on the TDSB site.
We are looking for old photos of this neighbourhood, if
you happen to have any picture of archival nature, we'll be happy to post
it. Please send your picture to
Old West Hill post office, post card stamped Dec 2,1932 , submitted by Larry
Submitted by George Dundar