The Toronto Park Lot Project
an exploration of the earliest days of Toronto, Ontario — founded in 1793 as the TOWN OF YORK by John Graves Simcoe, first Lt.-Governor of Upper Canada
Click/unclick these checkboxes to control which layers appear on the map.
WATERWAYS (and environmental features) circa 1793.
The Toronto region has been profoundly transformed since settlement began in 1793. See the lakeshore and long-lost waterways as they existed at the time of Lt-Governor Simcoe's arrival.
The ancient LAKE IROQUOIS SHORELINE of 13,000 years ago. The escarpment bordering the old lake had a major effect on aboriginal & early colonial travel routes. ZOOM out!
THE 32 TORONTO PARK LOTS & the original TOWN OF YORK. The red rectangle marks the original town of 1793. The larger orange rectangle shows the expanded town as of 1797.
TOWNSHIP OF YORK & township (farm) lots.
Colour-codes: blue— military officers, red— government officials, brown— clergy, green— farmers/artisans, yellow— government & military reserves. Click any of the grey areas for a township map & explanation of the lot grid.
TOWN OF YORK LANDMARKS. homes & businesses, country estates, churches, taverns, etc.
INDIGENOUS HISTORY — ZOOM OUT OUT OUT!
INDIGENOUS TRAILS & PORTAGE ROUTES, THE OLD FUR-TRADING ROUTES — including the Carrying Place Trails and the five Mississauga Anishinaabe council fires.
THE GEOGRAPHY OF DISPOSSESSION: Early aboriginal treaties (the British called them land surrenders) — MISSISSAUGA FIRST NATION and others — including the 1787/1805 TORONTO PURCHASE. The British got an incredible amount of territory for their six shillings!
COLONIAL HISTORY — ZOOM OUT OUT OUT!
1763: British Proclamation Act — after the French & Indian War
1768: The Fort Stanwix Indian Treaty
1774: The Quebec Act
THE "WESTERN POSTS" (blue icons) — and other military forts & fur-trading depots
1785: UNITED STATES of North America — after the Revolutionary War
1791: The Constitutional Act — division of Quebec into Upper Canada & Lower Canada
Upper Canada settlement. Locations of Upper Canada settlement during the Simcoe era — regions already settled, and Simcoe's plans for new forts and towns.
Start by experimenting with the CHECK BOXES in the
MAP CONTROLS panel to the left. The check boxes are the heart of the project — they control the kinds of information you will see on the map.
Each checkbox controls a layer. LAST OPTION CHECKED BECOMES TOP LAYER ON THE MAP.
I highly recommend checking and unchecking each check box in turn to see what variety of stories are available on the map.
Click on the lot rectangles and the various other markers — waterways, houses and landmarks — for more information.
I recommend hiding the park lots and township lots while viewing other features.
Biographies of grantees and subsequent property owners appear with their park lots.
Zoom in to see details at the town level. Zoom out a few times to see locations beyond Toronto and the Township of York.
Double-click on the map to zoom in — click and drag to move the map.
Or you can use the GOOGLE zoom slider and direction controls on the right side of the map.
The TORONTO PARK LOT PROJECT started in the spring of 2012 as a small personal project — a study of the locations and boundaries of Toronto's 32 park lots and the stories of the original patent holders — and grew from there.
I added the waterways and shoreline to provide a sense of the original marshy landscape, and drew in the Mississauga Indian Toronto Purchase of 1805 to press the point that these lands were occupied before Europeans ever arrived. Then I got interested in the original recipients of the Town of York town lot grants, their connection to Lt.-Governor John Graves Simcoe, their place in broader Upper Canadian society... Well, you can see what happened.
The park lot section of the project, as originally conceived, is essentially completed. But the truth is that the project will likely never be completely finished. Like the internet itself, the Toronto Park Lot Project evolves. As I do research for my book on Peter Russell (provincial administrator 1796-99, after the departure of Simcoe) I uncover ever more and more details on grantees, the lots' subsequent histories, etc. These details of course get added to the map as I find time to do so.
As of the end of 2014, there are almost 430 markers on the map — Fort York, the park lots, township lots, homes & town lots, churches, wharves, taverns, roads, aboriginal trails, and rivers, creeks and other physical features — anything I thought might help fill in the picture of the environment, politics, and personalities affecting the earliest development of Toronto. Each marker, when clicked, will open an information window with stories about the individuals and events connected to that location. Most recently I've been studying the back-story: the American Revolutionary War, the escape north of the Loyalists circa 1883 to the settlements of Niagara, Detroit, and the Royal Townships (on the St. Lawrence) during the pre-Upper Canada years when the entire territory was still part of Quebec. Some of those settlers ended up at York, and they are ending up on my map as well.
There are, in addition, a dozen short essays (found via the orange menu bar at the top of the webpage) on topics related to Toronto history and the creation of the map, as well as four overlays of historic maps of the Toronto region.
I'm having a lot of fun with this project. I hope you enjoy it too.
Wendy Smith, researcher/writer/webmaster
Winner of the 2014 Heritage Toronto AWARD OF EXCELLENCE
The TORONTO PARK LOT PROJECT
© Copyright Wendy Smith 2012-2017
CLICK TO HIDE THIS BOX.