This blog is about the Ashbridge’s neighbourhood today, and its long history. Archaeological digs at the Ashbridge Estate uncovered much evidence of First Nations people. Sarah Ashbridge and her family arrived in 1793 as the first settlers of European extraction in the area.
What is the Ashbridge’s neighbourhood?
Roughly it’s the southern part of the Greenwood-Coxwell area of east Toronto — the southwest corner of City Ward 32 (Beaches-East York). See photos of a walking tour.
After the Ashbridges arrived in 1793 the area became known as Ashport. This name was used until the 1860s. It has also been called various other names, as terminology has shifted back and forth over the last 200+ years. These terms have been used: Midway, East Riverdale, Southeast Riverdale, Greenwood, East Leslieville, West Beaches, Greenwood-Coxwell and recently, “nestled between Leslieville and the Beach.” The constant, though, is that it has always been the Ashbridge’s neighbourhood – since 1793.
A long history
One of the first written references to the Ashbridge land is in the diary of Lady Simcoe, wife of the first Governor. She wrote of visiting Sarah Ashbridge in 1796 at “the Settlement below the Town.”
The Ashbridges built several houses on their land over the decades. The current house was built in 1854, with the second storey added in 1899. The Ashbridge family continued to farm and produce bricks on the land, which is marked on period maps as the Ashbridge Estate. By contrast, areas to the west and east were developed as housing subdivisions.
In 1909, the bulk of the Ashbridge Estate was annexed to the City of Toronto as part of the Midway annexation. (The areas to the west of Greenwood Avenue – Riverside and Leslieville – were annexed in 1884).
In the years around 1910, most of the Ashbridge Estate was subdivided and sold for housing developments. The Ashbridges wanted the city to buy their “estate” as parkland – but this resulted in Monarch Park only – the vast majority became the housing areas we know today.
In 1907 Roden Public School opened, followed by Duke of Connaught Public School in 1912. See more about Duke of Connaught’s 100th birthday celebrations.
The 1910s marked the end of farming by the Ashbridge family, who continued to garden on the acres they retained — the Ashbridge Estate and land we see today on Queen Street East. Family members continued to live there until 1997, marking more than 200 years of inhabitation by the same family. In Toronto, this is believed to be the longest period that an original settler family lived on their original homestead land.
For more please see the Ashbridge’s Neighbourhood Timeline.