Etobicoke - MimicoThe 'pigeon' after which Mimico was named was the Passenger Pigeon thought to have been the most numerous species in the world at the time European colonization began in North America; it is now extinct.
After arriving in the Toronto area, Elizabeth Simcoe, wife of Upper Canada's first Governor and the founder of Toronto, refers to the large number of (passenger) pigeons after which Mimico is named. The area known as "Mimico" originally extended up the Mimico Creek to include Dundas Street, Upper Canada's early highway connecting Toronto to the west. One of Etobicoke's most prominent businessmen, William Gamble, opened a sawmill at the mouth of the Mimico Creek by the Lake Road (Lake Shore Boulevard) and a small settlement for the mill workers was built nearby. With Mr Gamble's patronage Etobicoke's first church, Christ Church (Anglican), was opened on Church Street (Royal York Road). At this time Mimico was in Etobicoke Township which had been meeting together with the other townships in the southern part of the County of York (what would become Metropolitan Toronto) as the Township of York (excluding the Town of York, later City of Toronto). Mr. Gamble eventually moved his business away but with the addition of a school at the foot of Church St (Royal York Rd) southern Mimico would not disappear.
A plan for Mimico
By 1850, after the Union of The Canadas, Etobicoke was formally recognised as a Township and the Toronto-Hamilton Railway was built through the southern part of the Township. The railway opened the new Mimico Station in 1855, just north of the tracks beside Christ Church (the street was named Church St now Royal York) and commissioned a subdivision plan with side-streets for a 'Town of Mimico'. Mimico was advertised as being '8 minutes' from Toronto (by train), then bordered by Dufferin St. In 1858, a Mimico post office had been opened just south of the Railway Station on Church St (now Royal York Rd) where St. Leo's church is today and in 1863, the Wesley Methodist Church was established. This prompted the northernmost part of the Mimico area on Dundas St. to adopt a separate name; Islington. In Tremaine's 1860 Map of York County, the Mimico Subdivision is reprinted with all its side streets, however by 1861, the plan had already failed the area largely returning to agricultural use. Mimico's founding families were therefore mostly farmers: the Van Everys (Loyalists), the Handrys and the Stocks.
A Second plan for Mimico
Between 1883 and 1893, there were 13 separate annexations to the City of Toronto which brought the border of that city to the Humber R. In 1890, the Mimico Real Estate Security Company Ltd was formed to divide and sell lots in the Etobicoke Community of Mimico. This plan included the subdivision of Mr. Edward Stock's land as far north as the Stock's Side Road (an extension of Toronto's Queen Street, now the Queensway) and a cattle path he had established as a shortcut from Church St (Royal York) to Lake Shore became Mimico Avenue. At this time Mimico was defined as North of Lake Ontario, West of the Humber River, South of North Queen Street (Delroy Drive) and East of Mimico Avenude (now Kipling Avenue). A year later a Presbyterian Church was built on Mimico Avenue. Mimico was expected to grow quickly and a second post office was established in what is now New Toronto. A small number of Victorian buildings were built on the newly laid out streets assuring that this time they would not simply disappear. Mimico and the other lakeshore communities west of the Humber River were eventually linked by an independent streetcar line run by the Toronto and Mimico Electric Railway and Light Company,which was intended to link with a line from Hamilton. However, the eastern end was never completed past Port Credit. The line travelled along Lake Shore to Roncesvalles Avenue where it climbed a bridge to the Roncesvalles Yard meeting the end of Toronto's 'Queen' streetcar line. The 1950s building of the Queensway in the western end of Toronto moved the transfer point to Humber Loop. The streetcar line brought many of Toronto's wealthy to the Lake Shore in Etobicoke where several large estates were built, first and most impressive of which was the Featherstonaugh Estate shaped like a castle at the bottom of Royal York Rd. This period in which Mimico took shape was also the period in which Mimico's namesake, the passenger pigeon, disappeared from the area, the last known bird dying near the beginning of the next century in the United States. A Mimico resident, Mr. John Kay on noticing the disappearance of this species donated a stuffed passenger pigeon to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto to preserve some of the last evidence of what had been Mimico's namesake.
Mimico began slowly to decline as the children of families who lived in the small houses of the 1940s outmigrated to the growing outer suburbs and the apartments did not live up to the hopes they had generated as they quickly deteriorated.
Businesses also continued to fail and many of the small industries moved out. In 1984, Etobicoke became a city and a plan was prepared to rejuvenate Mimico which called for limiting the amount of commercial space by rezoning Mimico Avenue as non-commercial. The same year Humber Bay Park was opened; two artificial peninsulas, one in the east and one in the west (enclosing Mimico's beach to create a harbour), which connect to the main land at the end of Mimico Creek. The creation of the artificial park led to unintended consequences with the naturally sandy shoreline in Mimico quickly eroding away. With declining enrollment at Mimico Public High School, the building was offered to the Catholic board as the number of Catholics had been increasing with many Italian and Polish immigrants arriving in Mimico. This offer was refused and an Adult Learning Center was opened there until that institution swapped schools with John English Elementary School. An estate on Lake Shore was bought by the Polish government at this time to become their Toronto Consulate. A new station was built to service GO trains on the site of the 1855 station on the north side of the tracks just south of Christ Church on Royal York while the old 1916 Station fell into disrepair.
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