My many thanks

Thank you to Heritage Toronto for the AWARD OF EXCELLENCE for The Toronto Park Lot Project received at the Heritage Toronto Awards ceremony on October 21, 2014.

I am thrilled to receive the award and thrilled also at the opportunity to draw attention AwardofExcellenceto the stories of the Toronto park lots and the other founding stories of our fascinating city.
Wendy Smith

Wendy Smith at 2014 Heritage Toronto Awards

Also, my heartfelt THANK YOU! to my neighbour Gail Misra, the first PARK LOT PROJECT visitor to press the project DONATE button. Also THANK YOU! to Geoffrey Singer, Audrey Fox, Antonia Zerbisias, Dennis Stacey, Tim Smye, David Unger, Steven Weerdenburg, Maureen Condon, John Routh, Michael Ruehle, Robert Young, Geoffrey Marx, Tom Wicks, Ric Amis of Parkdale, and many others who made donations or provided other support.

THANK YOU! also to Jeremy Harbord, who sent a donation from London, England to support my work on a book about his great-great grandfather, Edward Harbord, 3rd Lord Suffield, namesake of Toronto's Harbord Street.

I am also grateful for funding support from the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario. The OAC's grant to me (2014) through the Writers' Reserve Program supported research and preliminary writing for my book on Peter Russell, administrator of Upper Canada 1796-99.

My book research overlaps with research for the PARK LOT PROJECT — and I use the map as an organizational/ research tool for the book — and so I am taking this opportunity to say "thank you" here to the OAC.

Ontario Arts Council

Special thanks to ...

My deepest gratitude to the National Archives of Canada (Ottawa), to its service, research and restoration staff — most especially Archivist Ilene McKenna, who facilitated the extraordinary opportunity to inspect the actual physical Upper Canada Land Books. This experience was key to my developing an understanding of the discussions and decisions that lead to the 1793 Toronto land grants. I plan to write about these insights in the near future.

Patrica Kennedy (L) and Wendy Smith (R)

Above: at the National Archives, April 8, 2014: recently retired Manuscript Archivist Patricia Kennedy on the left, myself on the right.
—  Wendy Smith

In the photo I am holding Upper Canada Land Book C, which contains the Executive Council minutes of September, 1793, where Lt.-Governor Simcoe made the initial land grants for Town of York (Toronto) house lots, the Toronto park lots, and other Township of York grants.


I owe a great debt of gratitude to Patricia Kennedy. With her guidance I made a successful application to the National Archives for access to the original Upper Canada Land Books, which were withdrawn from public circulation four decades ago. Interestingly, it was Patricia, as manuscript archivist, who made the original decision in the 1970s to end public access to the fragile land books. Instead, black and white photos of the land book pages were available to the public on microfilm (and, more recently, online).

In early April 2014 I enjoyed an illuminating and exhausting research week in Ottawa at the National Archives of Canada. I rendezvoused there with Patricia in the Special Media Consultation Room, where we examined the land books, noting especially the marginalia (notes in pencil and coloured ink), and theorized about about the out-of-order sections of the minutes. (Why are the minutes of the 1793 Toronto land grants recorded in Land Book C, instead of chronologically in Land Book A?)

We had several very stimulating discussions about the creation of the executive council minutes, and what they can can tell us about the decisions and bureaucratic processes that lead to the creation of the land books as we know them today.

Thank you Patricia.

I am deeply indebted to Thomas Sylvester of Amherst Island, who in March, 2015 shared Thomas Sylvesterwith me 100 pages of detailed research notes for his (not-yet-published) book on the forgotten Treasury Loyalists. His notes answered a number of dangling questions that had troubled me, added significant detail to the biographies of nine Township of York grantees, and fills an important gap in the story of the American Revolutionary Loyalists. I look forward to the book!


Helen Mills Helen Mills, founder of the inspirational Lost Rivers project. I have shared many delightful discussions with Helen on Toronto's lost waterways and the stories of people who settled those areas.


Marcel Fortin, University of Toronto GIS and Map Librarian, for his interest and encouragement early and throughout the project.


Nathan Ng of Historical Maps of Toronto who has done Toronto's historical community Nathan Ngthe great favour of collecting and putting online high-resolution copies of all early Toronto maps, plans and drawings. Most exciting is his recent addition of a digital full-colour copy of the Alexander Aitken 1793 map Click here to see the Aitken map. — Toronto's first official plan — never before seen outside the U.K. National Archives in London, England. Nathan won a Heritage Toronto award in 2014 for his wonderful project.


The passenger pigeon icons in flight at Mimico on the PARK LOT PROJECT map (Waterways layer) is adapted from a detail in painter John Ruthven's Martha mural at the Cincinnati Zoo, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 1914 death of Martha, the last surviving passenger pigeon. My sincere thanks to John for his kind permission to sample his artwork in this way.


My thanks to the Stackoverflow.com volunteers, especially Eric Bridger of Portland, Maine, who helped me with some sticky programming challenges.

And to my talented friend Jim Paterson of Non-Stop Design for a handful of brilliant colour and presentation suggestions that helped bring the web site to life.


My thanks also to

Librarians RoseMarie Sprearpoint, Nicola Abraham, Jill Slack, and the rest of the kind and very supportive staff at the Toronto Public Library's Palmerston Branch.

The always-helpful staff at the Toronto Reference Library, especially the very patient members of the Baldwin Room team, the second floor help desk staff, the staff in the newspaper archives, and Interlibrary Loan services.

The research staff at the Ontario Archives the City of Toronto Archives.

Lisa Casselman, Survey Records Clerk, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Office of the Surveyor General.

William Kindree of the Community History Project and the Toronto Historical Association.

The Harriet Irving Library, University of New Brunswick, for the generous loan of microfilm from its Loyalist Collection.

Etobicoke history expert Denise Harris (Heritage Officer, Etobicoke Historical Society) who very generously shared her research and speaking notes for her lecture on Etobicoke and the War of 1812. Ditto map images and her research on the Dundas Road.

Jordan Hale, who did much of the digitization & database work for the University of Toronto's Don River Valley Historical Mapping Project while a geography graduate student.

Historian Christopher Moore for his very helpful comments early in the project.

Delores Feldman for her donation of several fine Toronto history books.

The many people who have blogged and tweeted about the project.


I've received good wishes from many of my friends, neighbours and colleagues. Thank you every one.

Wendy Smith


The TORONTO PARK LOT PROJECT — an exploration of the earliest days of the TOWN OF YORK, founded in 1793 by John Graves Simcoe, first Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada. Copyright © Wendy Smith 2012/2013/2014/2015/2016/2017.

http://wendysmithtoronto.com/parklotproject