Ashbridge Estate

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Ashbridge Estate
Ashbridge Estate.jpg
Established 1793 (this building 1854, second floor added 1899)
Location Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Type Ontario Heritage Trust
Website OHT page

The Ashbridge Estate is an historic home in the east end of Toronto. The building is located on Queen Street East near Coxwell Avenue in the Ashbridge's neighbourhood, Toronto between Leslieville and The Beaches. It is the earliest known site of residential inhabitation in the east Toronto area.

History[edit]

The Ashbridge family came from Pennsylvania to what was then an area outside of York. Sarah Ashbridge was the head of the household and brought with her an extended family, 2 unmarried sons, 3 daughters--one unmarried--2 with husbands and family in tow. Sarah Ashbridge was a widow.

They were granted some 600 acres (2.4 km2), stretching from Lake Ontario to Danforth Avenue. After clearing the land, it became a profitable farm. The family remained on the site until 1997, the only family in the history of Toronto to have retained the same property for more than 200 years.

As the city of Toronto expanded eastward and encroached on the estate, the Ashbridges sold off much of their land. The Duke of Connaught Public School (1912) and S.H. Armstrong Community Recreation Centre were built on land that had been the Ashbridge's orchard. Woodfield Road, on the east side of the current property, was originally the farm lane going to the fields farther north.

By the 1920s the property owned by the family had shrunk to the 2 acres (8,100 m2) that now make up the estate. It was donated to the Ontario Heritage Trust by the family in 1972, but the last member of the family continued living there until 1997.

A number of localities in the area are named after the Ashbridges. Just to the south of the house is Jonathan Ashbridge Park, while slightly to the east is Sarah Ashbridge Avenue. The bay that marked the southern edge of the property is now known as Ashbridge's Bay. On the east and north sides of the bay is the large Ashbridge's Bay Park. Ashbridge's Bay Park North, to the north of the bay, is the site of the Ashbridge's Bay Skate Park, opened in 2009. The west side of the bay is the location of the Ashbridges Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant, Toronto's main sewage treatment plant.

Historic plaque[edit]

The Ontario Heritage Trust plaque on the estate reads: "This property was home to one family for two centuries. Sarah Ashbridge and her family moved here from Pennsylvania and began clearing land in 1794. Two years later they were granted 600 acres (243 hectares) between Ashbridge's Bay and present day Danforth Avenue. The Ashbridges prospered as farmers until Toronto suburbs began surrounding their land in the 1880s. They sold all but this part of their original farm by the 1920s. Donated to the Ontario Heritage Foundation in 1972, it was the family estate until 1997. As they changed from pioneers to farmers to professionals over 200 years on this property, the Ashbridges personified Ontario's development from agricultural frontier to urban industrial society."

Currently[edit]

The main house is the oldest surviving building on the property, and dates to 1854. It was designed by local architect Joseph Sheard, who would later serve as Mayor of Toronto. The second storey was added in 1899. The site is also home to a number of smaller outbuildings. The estate was home to extensive gardens, but recently the Ontario Heritage Trust which owns the property has replaced some of the garden areas with grass.

Current tenants of the house include FUSION, the Ontario Clay and Glass Association, the Ontario Society of Artists and the Ontario Archaeological Society.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Coordinates: 43°39′55″N 79°19′22″W / 43.665303°N 79.322759°W / 43.665303; -79.322759