Mimico Creek: A Former Squatters’ Paradise

1940

Mimico Creek

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Bill Bonar and his wife Letitia, Irish immigrants who arrived in Toronto in 1916, were allowed to live rent-free in a former pump house located on the west side of Mimico Creek, near a beautiful marsh just south of the confluence with what is now called Bonar Creek. The land had once belonged to Sir Henry Pellatt of Casa Loma fame, who lost the property when he could not pay his taxes in the 1920s.

Bicycling on Lake Shore Road over Mimico Creek, 1907 (photo by William James, courtesy City of Toronto Archives, SC 244-206).

Until the 1940s, before the introduction of foreign species killed much of the fish stock in Lake Ontario, Bonar was able to earn his living as a fisher. When he died in 1964, three generations of the family had squatted on the property thanks to the generosity of several owners.

Mimico Creek begins in Brampton and travels in a southeasterly direction to drain into Lake Ontario, west of the Humber River. Its watershed is located between the Humber and Etobicoke Creek. Like so many of Toronto’s waterways, most of Mimico Creek has ended up enclosed by sewer or concrete spillway. However, south of Bloor Street, near the Islington subway station, it is still exposed. It passes by Montgomery’s Inn and its former beauty can be experienced to the south in Humber Bay Park, where the mouth of the creek is crossed by a very striking pedestrian bridge designed by Santiago Calatrava.

By Sandra Shaul

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Mimico Creek south of Bloor Street West, 2008 (photo by GTD Aquitaine) View the image gallery