The Laskey Hotel.
Photos: Courtesy Scarborough Archives
In our seventh article in the series about neighbourhood heritage, Don Allen, Scarborough Historical Society and Archives, writes about the village of Port Union.
By Don Allen
The village of Port Union was located entirely within the Pickering Township boundaries. Its beginning was the result of the Scarborough, Pickering and Markham Wharf Company and the trade that the port brought to the area.
With the opening of the Grand Trunk Railway in 1856 and the construction of the Port Union train station, the area became an important location for the trade of goods and transportation of people. On June 1, 1865, Port Union received its first Post Office which was located in the train station with Mr. James Mitchell appointed as the postmaster.
The population of the village in 1857 was “about 30” with a hotel-keeper, blacksmith and cooper along with contractor Robert Williams and a number of wharf hands and railway workers.
A three-street town was laid out in 1868 by John Pearce on his property which was located on Lot 35 Concession B (or 1st range broken front), consisting of nineteen building lots on three streets: Cherry Street to the north with eight building lots, Orchard Street to the south (later called Duthie St.) consisting of seven building lots and a small road from the town line running southeast towards the train station called Station Street, with four building lots. The actual village never really amounted to much. Cherry Street was never opened as a road and only 6 or 7 houses were built.
The entire Port Union area reached its peak in the early 1870’s with a population of approximately 100. At that time, there were two hotels in operation: Joseph Moon’s on the west side of Port Union Road later to be called Herrington’s, and Thomas Laskey’s Hotel. As stated in an old issue of the Toronto Telegram, “The railway, the “town line,” the steamers and schooners all brought transients to Port Union, the railway crews required accommodation, and the farmers waiting to unload or to team their purchases back home all needed a place to eat, drink and sleep.”
“William Hemming kept school, though where the school was is at the moment unknown. Charlton Kerr found employment as a gunsmith. The cooperage of Robert Gibson, the blacksmith shop of Reuben Stephen and the cordwood yard were the three modest industries of the place.”
By the mid-1890’s with the pier washed away and its storehouses fallen down, the population was reduced to a mere 43 people.
During the 1900 to 1950 period, the train station was the only reason the area even remained on the map. From the 1950’s until the demise of the area, family names such as Aldridge, Carson, Kendrick, Morrison, Newell and Scott occupied the few remaining houses. The Carson house at #6 Duthie Street was the last building to be demolished.
A new underpass to the beach was completed in 2000 allowing safe access to the waterfront. The Port Union Village Common Park was opened to the public in 2012, and with it the incredible beauty of the shoreline has finally become available for all to enjoy.
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