Roots of Urban Toronto

The southwest corner of Front and George Streets is also the southwest corner of the tiny ten-block town laid out by Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe in 1793, an area bounded by today's Front-George-Adelaide-Berkeley. At the time, the site was covered by a thick grove of oak trees. Dense forest and unoccupied space extended from the town site to the fort under construction four kilometres west.

St. Lawrence Hall (illustration from “Ballou's Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion,” 21 July 1855, courtesy City of Toronto Archives/SC268-1724N).

By 1803, there were two red brick Parliament Buildings at Front and Berkeley, 75 wooden houses, and a wooden farmers' market to the east near the current site of St. Lawrence Hall on King Street at Jarvis. Farms stretched far beyond the town, along the major roads north into what was then York Township, west into Etobicoke and east into Scarborough. The sites in this theme will take you to former farms, homes of the founders, and historic landmarks.

Toronto's population of 2.7 million now lives between the borders of Highway 427, the Rouge River, Steeles Avenue and Lake Ontario, an area of 630 square kilometres.

A selection of sites from this theme is laid out in the trail Early Toronto.

The Stories