Thursday, February 2, 2017

History of the Town of Mimico

The Town of Mimico began as a Police Village in 1905 when it requested, and was granted powers that enabled it to gain some independance from the more rural Township of Etobicoke.  Under the terms of the bylaw passed by York County Council on January 27, 1905, Mimico was able to elect three trustees who were empowered to set local taxes in support of local services.  By 1910 Mimico had a population of almost 800 and the citizens petitioned York County Council requesting that Mimico become a fully independent Village.  The request was granted and Mimico became an independant Village on January 1, 1911.  It was now completely independent and able to elect its own political representatives and manage its own affairs.  The community continued to grow and in May 1917 the province of Ontario made Mimico a Town.  It would remain an independent municipality until 1967 when it was forced to amalgamate with Borough of Etobicoke.  In 1997 it became part of the City of Toronto. 

The boundaries of the Town were as follows:   a line running north from Lake Ontario up Dwight Avenue, over the railway tracks and along St. George Street up to Evans Avenue on the west; easterly along Evans Avenue to Church Street (present day Royal York Road) then along Algoma Street to Grand Avenue then north one block and along Manitoba Street on the north; Mimico Creek at the north east corner then westerly along the railway track to a line extending south to the end of Victoria Avenue (which was originally a short distance east of Louisa Street), across the Lake Shore Road to Lake Ontario on the east; and, Lake Ontario on the south.

There are two published histories of the Town of Mimico already known.  The first was The Story of Mimico:  Home of the Wild Pigeon, written by Edwin Eland and published in 1935.   The second was The Mimico Story,written by Harvey Currell and published by the Mimico Library Board in 1967.  I hope to provide interesting supplementary material to these two original publications. 

Do you have any photos or documents on the history of Mimico? Are you interested in keeping up to date on heritage issues in Mimico by being added to the heritage email list?  If so please contact me at mimicohistory at 

All information and photographs on this site are copyrighted and may not be used without my permission unless otherwise noted.   © Copyright Michael Harrison 2011.  All rights reserved. (originally posted January 12, 2011)

Mimico - Judson Regeneration Areas Study - Heritage Buildings Demolished

I have struggled to write a posting for this as it was such a disaster for built heritage.

So lets start from the beginning.  In December of 2013 Toronto City Council adopted an official plan amendment proposing to redesignate the lands near the Mimico GO Station and a portion of lands to the west of Royal York Road as "Regeneration Areas".

Council directed staff to begin a study of the Mimico-Judson Regeneration Area to provide for a plan for its revitalization.

As part of the planning process I identified two properties that I felt warranted further study for their heritage potential.  In the end both would be demolished.

I identified the buildings at 49 and 53 Judson Street (Dominion Abrasive Wheel Grinding Company Complex) and 1 Audley Street (Mitchell and Dorst Building - though best known as the Schindler Company of Canada Building).  

As part of their work the city's consultants, as well as city staff, concurred and identified both historical industrial properties as being "character" buildings potentially worthy of protection and preservation in their planning documents. 

Despite this the owner/developer of 49 and 53 Judson Street (Dunpar Homes) applied for and was granted a demolition permit on December 11, 2015.  The buildings were demolished in early 2016.  How did this happen?   Well, unlike residential buildings, demolition permits for commercial/industrial buildings are dealt with administratively by city staff and do not require approval from Community Councils.  When reviewing applications for demolition city staff check the heritage registry to see if the building is listed or designated.  Since the buildings on Judson had not yet been investigated for heritage potential (though there was a clear planning intent that the city would) they were not on the heritage registry and so there was no impediment to city staff in issuing the demolition permit.   The permit was issued and the owner demolished the buildings.

Shockingly the same thing happened for the Mitchell and Dorst Building at 1 Audley Street.  Again, despite the clear planning intent in all of the documents related to planning for this area, Freed Developments purchased the property in the summer of 2016, and then applied for a demolition permit.  Since the same circumstances were in place city staff had no option but to issue the demolition permit and did so on September 12, 2016.  Heritage staff at the city of Toronto this time were alerted and prioritized research on the property and made plans to bring a report forward to the next Toronto Preservation Board meeting scheduled for September 28, 2016.   However, it was too late.  With their demolition permit in hand Freed began demolition on the day of the meeting.  The Toronto Preservation Board adopted the report but by then there was nothing left to preserve.  

The lesson from all this?  When it comes to potential heritage resources identified in secondary plans and other planning documents in this city, especially if the buildings are not residential, it is critical that they be put on the city's heritage inventory as "listed" buildings as soon as possible in order to safeguard any issuance of demolition permits and give city staff time to assess the building to determine if it merits designation under the Ontario Heritage Act. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

John Telfer House - 159 Stanley Avenue

John Telfer House - 159 Stanley Avenue
© Michael Harrison 2011

John Telfer was born in Sommerville, Ontario in 1848.  He was educated in Collingwood and later moved to Ingersoll where he married his wife Ann Telfer in 1883.  They soon moved to Toronto and then to Mimico.

 The home was designed in the Second Empire style with an impressive mansard roof, it still has its original dichromatic slate roof design. It appears from the 1913 Goad's Fire Insurance Plan that the house was originally constructed of wood but I don't think that was the case.

John Telfer House - Goad's Fire Insurance Plan 1913
courtesy Library and Archives Canada

The Telfers moved into the home and lived there for many years with their three children:  Ella (b. 1884); Frances (b. 1886) and Cyril (b. 1892).   John Telfer began working for the Northern Railway, and continued with the company after it was acquired by the Grand Trunk Railway in 1888.  He retired from the railway in 1912 after a career of 50 years.  He then began his second career in municipal government as the Mimico Town Clerk and Treasurer.  He held that post until ill health forced him to lessen his work load and became the assistant treasurer in 1922.  He died at work in the Mimico Town Hall on December 15, 1925.

Photo of John Alfred Telfer
courtesy of The Story of Mimico, by Edwin Eland, 1935

His widow continued to live in the house until her subsequent death.  It was then that Cyril Telfer their son sold the home to my grandparents Lloyd and Kathleen Sauve in 1942 for the grand sum of $3,700.  

My grandparents lived in the house, raising a large family of eleven children, until their deaths in 1982 after which the home was sold.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Mimico Masonic Temple (Connaught Hall)

Mimico Masonic Temple (Connaught Hall)
23 Superior Avenue
© Michael Harrison 2012 

This year (2012) is the 100th anniversary of Connaught Masonic Lodge No. 501.  Their home, the Mimico Masonic Temple at 23 Superior Avenue was evaluated as part of the Mimico 2020 Revitalization Cultural Heritage Resource Assessment Report released October 2012. 

According to the report, the Mimico Masonic Temple (Connaught Hall) is an "imposing two-storey brick structure with a symmetrical three-bay fa├žade, divided by pilasters rising to a simple projecting entablature corbelled out from the wall surface; brick on a concrete foundation with concrete or stone sills and lintels, pressed metal cornice; entrance is very simple, marked with Masonic symbols".

The report indicates that the property “merits further study and evaluation as a potential BHR” (Built Heritage Resource).  Further, the property has a “high” integrity of design. (pg 88)

If any building in Mimico is worthy of protection under the Ontario Heritage Act the Mimico Masonic Temple is one of them.

The Temple has a long history in the Town of Mimico. 

According to “A Century of Freemasonry in Etobicoke”, the first Lodge in the area was the York Lodge established in 1863. By 1878 the Mimico Lodge was constituted in Islington (not Mimico), and later moved to a permanent home in Lambton Mills in 1882.   In 1911 a:

“large number of members of this Lodge residing in the Town of Mimico decided to form a new Lodge there; the difficultly of travelling from this town to Lambton Mills was the main and sufficient reason.  The only means of transportation being by driving, or if not the happy possessor of a horse and carriage or a motor (and these latter were not nearly so plentiful as at present) was to take the electric car and by a circuitous route through Sunnyside and West Toronto, finally arriving at the destination by a ten minute walk; the whole time consumed in going to and returning from Lodge being much greater than the time spent there.  Accordingly, a few of the Brethren started a chapter list which soon had forty-two names upon it.  Among these were the following of “Mimico” Lodge:  George S Brown, the first Master of the new Lodge; F. F. Reeves, Octavius L. Hicks, P.H. Brown, J. Barnum, G.P. Richardson, J.W. Ruttan, John Kay, Charles Aymer, Dr. Forbes Godfrey, M.L.A., and R. Elkin. 

The consent of “Mimico” Lodge was asked and cheerfully given at the meeting in October 1911.  Dispensation and Charter followed in due course.  “Mimico” Lodge presented a copy of the V.S.L. [Volume of Sacred Law], with their best wishes for a successful career, to the new Lodge, which adopted the name, “Connaught” after H.R.H. Duke of Connaught, Grand Master of the “United Grand Lodge of England”, and Governor-General of Canada.”

Connaught Lodge was formally instituted and constituted in 1912.   The Mimico Masonic Temple was built as a combination Masonic Hall/Theatre with the theatre on the lower level and the Masonic Hall above.  It housed the first theatre in the Lakeshore area.  The 1919 reference in the Toronto City directory (Mimico section) has the building listed as “Connaught Theatre”.  In the 1921 directory (Mimico section) it is listed as both “Connaught Lodge” and “Connaught Theatre”.   This double listing is also in the 1922 directory (Mimico section).

The Connaught Lodge first met in rented quarters in the Heather Block on the Lake Shore Road at the foot of Mimico Avenue.  In the photo of the soldiers you can see a small light globe with a Masonic symbol on it on the building behind them.  The building was demolished a few years ago and the land is now Mimico Square at Amos Waites Park.

It was not until 1917 that the members constructed a purpose built Masonic Temple on Superior Avenue.  It was built primarily as the home of Connaught Lodge (No. 501) but eventually it served as the Masonic Temple for three additional Lodges (four in total). The three additional lodges were:  Long Branch Lodge (No. 632); Anthony Sayer Lodge (No. 640) and Lake Shore Lodge (No. 645); all established in 1927.

Connaught Lodge (No. 501) was the primary lodge in the Mimico Masonic Temple.  The membership was a who’s who list of Mimico’s political and business elite.  It includes names such as:

  • Dr. Forbes Godfrey (local MPP and first Ontario Minister of Health);
  • JH Doughty (Mayor of Mimico 1921-1925);
  • AD Norris (Mayor of Mimico 1933-1935, 1941-1942, 1946, 1949-1954; Reeve of Mimico 1943-1944-1945);
  • George R. Gauld (Superintendent of the Victoria Industrial School, long time School Board Trustee – George R Gauld School is named after him);
  • George W.G. Gauld (WWI Flying Ace, Town of Mimico solicitor for 40 years);
  • John Kay, (descendant of Mimico’s first commuter – see Mimico Story,  pg 50);
  • Robert Skelton (First Reeve of Mimico 1911-1912, Manager of Ontario Sewer Pipe Company);
  • Octavius Hicks (prominent contractor who built the first bowstring concrete truss bridge span in Ontario over Etobicoke Creek;
  • Andrew Dods (First Clerk of Mimico, Mimico Councillor, Member of the Mimico Public Utilities Commission, President of Ontario Sewer Pipe Company, Mimico’s largest industry);
  • Louis J West (Mayor of Mimico 1919-1920, Founding member and President of Toronto Stock Exchange)
  • Dr John Serson (Member [various years] as well as Chair Mimico High School Board 1933, Prominent Surgeon);
  • Jay Barnun (First Assessor for Town of Mimico); and,
  • Dr. K.F.Pownall (Dentist, Registrar Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario 1965-1990, Clinical Demonstrator University of Toronto’s Faculty of Dentistry).
A well known member of the Anthony Sayer Lodge (No. 640) was:

  • L.J. Ferrie (Clerk and Treasurer, Town of Mimico, Councillor, Town of Mimico)
Some names of the Lake Shore Lodge (No. 645) included:

  • Eric Horwood, Architect, Horwood and White, son of J.C.B. Horwood, Architect.  Eric Horwood would undertake the renovation of the Mimico Masonic Temple (Connaught Hall) following the damage caused by fire in 1940;
  • E.J. Everett (long time Chairman of the Mimico Library Board – 25 years);
  • W.H. McBride (Principal George R. Gauld School 1942-1943, John English School 1942-1960);
  • E. Jarrett (WWI Veteran – including Vimy Ridge, co founder of Glendinning-Jarrett Accounting – now part of Price Waterhouse; Auditor for the Town of Mimico for over 40 years, Committee Member who worked on the Town of Mimico application to Ontario Municipal Board for the establishment of a Metropolitan Form of Government for Toronto – 1947- which led to the formation of Metropolitan Toronto in 1953);
  • G.H. Hogle (owner of G.H. Hogle Undertakers); and,
  • Everett Herbert Glenn, Principal of Mimico High School (25 years), Member, Mimico Public Library Board.
This is by no means an extensive listing of members of the various lodges that utilized the Mimico Masonic Temple (Connaught Hall)

In addition to serving as a Masonic Temple, the building also served as a community hub with many local events taking place in it such as banquets, wedding receptions, political rallies (including some broadcast live on radio), charity events, a polling location for elections at all levels of government, theatre, business meetings, concerts, plays, dances, memorial services on November 11th, meetings of the Order of the Eastern Star, charity events of the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire, Scout/Guide meetings, blood donor clinics and many public meetings.  It also served as the location of the local police court.

Two sets of alterations are known to have been made to the building.  
In 1936 alterations were made to “provide Mimico with a more dignified courtroom” (Toronto Star Feb 5, 1936).   More extensive alterations were made in 1940 due to a fire which resulted in extensive damage ($6,000 worth according to the Toronto Star Dec 2, 1940).  The prominent architectural firm of Horwood and White was engaged to renovate the building.  Eric Horwood, who lived in Mimico at “Quidi Vidi” the family’s waterfront estate, and was a member of the Lake Shore Lodge, undertook the work.  The new building was opened officially on September 3, 1940.  It included a separate wing for the local police court.

Details of the damage from the 1940 fire, and the renovation can be found in the Horwood Collection at the Archives of Ontario.

The Mimico Masonic Temple, which sits proudly on Superior Avenue, continues to serve as the headquarters for the Connaught Lodge and the three other historic Masonic Lodges in Mimico today.

Designation of this building under the Ontario Heritage Act will ensure that this historically significant, dignified building continues to grace the community. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Mimico Cultural Heritage Resource Assessment

The City of Toronto has posted the Mimico Cultural Heritage Resource Assessment report on the Mimico 2020 Revitalization webpage.

The Executive Summary reads as follows:  

Executive Summary

The significance of Heritage Resources is recognized as a key component of the Mimico 20/20 Action Plan, requiring an inventory and evaluation of Built Heritage Resources (BHRs) Cultural Heritage Landscapes (CHLs) and potential Heritage Conservation Districts (PHCDs) within the area identified for revitalization, and in neighbourhoods adjacent to it. This Cultural Heritage Resource Assessment Report presents the findings of a comprehensive review of the Study Area carried out during September to December 2011, and provides recommendations for the integration of development with heritage resources in an appropriate and sensitive way, according to the regulatory framework, current standards and guidelines for conservation best practices, and the Performance Standards outlined in the Avenues and Mid-Rise Buildings Study.

A thematic history was compiled to identify key themes and trends in the history of Mimico to provide a context for the community.

The study process identified 45 properties as BHRs, CHLs and/or PHCDs that should be considered for listing on the City’s Heritage Inventory. They are presented in Data Sheets with basic information and mapping. Detailed research and evaluation is recommended to determine their heritage values as a basis for Statements of Significance in preparation for reference to development proposals.

A copy of the report can be downloaded here.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mrs Gooder's Charge Plate

Mrs. Ross C Gooder's Charge Plate

I recently acquired this interesting bit of Mimico history.  An early charge plate (early credit card) for Simpson's owned by Mrs. Ross C. Gooder of 6 Lakeshore Road, Mimico.

The Gooder's lived in a one storey wooden house on the north (west) side of the Lakeshore Road (present day Lake Shore Blvd. West) just within the Mimico municipal boundary.

Home of Mrs. Ross C. Gooder

In the 1922 and 1932 Toronto city directories 6 Lakeshore Road, Mimico is listed as the home of Garnet J. Gooder, a tailor.  He must be the father of Ross C. Gooder.

In 1911 the Garnet J. Gooder family was living at 541 Gladstone Avenue, Toronto.  By 1918 they were living in Mimico but on the corner of Burlington Street and the Lakeshore Road.  They appear to have moved to the home at 6 Lakeshore Road in about 1921.

The lot where the home was located is currently vacant.  The home was demolished sometime in the past.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Louis J. West House - 17 Albert Avenue

Louis J. West House - 17 Albert Avenue
© Michael Harrison 2012 

This home was built for Louis J. West circa 1912.  

Louis J. West was born in London, England in 1872 and immigrated to Canada with his parents James and Harriett West shortly thereafter.  They settled in Toronto and James West worked as a butcher.  Louis was educated at Toronto and later founded the brokerage firm of Louis J. West and Company.  

On October 11, 1898 Louis married Ethel May Shafer, daughter of James and Mary Shafter.  He moved to Mimico in about 1904 where he took an active part in the incorporation of Mimico as a police village in 1905.  At first he lived on Southampton Avenue (present day Cavell) and then Station Road before moving into his new house in 1912.

courtesy of The Mimico Story 

In 1919 he was elected Mayor of the town and held the post for two years.  He was one of the founders, and one time president of the Toronto Stock Exchange.  He retired from his brokerage firm in 1931 and then purchased the Jermyn Estate on Mimico Beach.  He died there on October 3, 1936, leaving an estate valued at over $395,000. ( $6,496,148.65 in 2012 dollars)

The West family continued to live at the estate until they sold it to the Peckover family in 1945. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Dr. John Serson House - 67 Superior Avenue

Dr. John Serson House - 67 Superior Avenue
© Michael Harrison 2012

This fine home was built for Dr. John Serson circa 1912.  It still has its original driving shed and stable in the backyard!

Dr. Serson's Driving Shed and Stable
© Michael Harrison 2012

Dr Serson's House - 1913 Goad's Fire Insurance Plan for Mimico
courtesy Library and Archives Canada

Dr. Serson was born in Ridgetown, Kent County, Ontario on May 20, 1878 to James Serson and Elizabeth Cooper.  He grew up on the family farm but later attended the University of Toronto where he graduated with his medical degree in 1905.  He moved to Mimico by 1907 living on Southampton Avenue (present day Cavell Avenue). 

On June 3, 1908 he was married to Lillian Rowntree at the Methodist Church in Weston.  They would later have two children - John (b. 1910) and Marion (b. 1912).  

The Serson family moved into their new house on Superior Avenue in 1912.

  Dr. John Serson
courtesy The Story of Mimico

He was a founding member of the Mimico Horticultural Society, and was a member of the Masonic Order Connaught Lodge.  He was a well known surgeon at both St. Joseph's and Grace Hospitals.  When telephone service came to the area in 1914 he was given telephone number 1.  

They lived at 67 Superior Avenue until he purchased the Beamish Estate on Mimico Beach in 1926.

In 1933 a public banquet was held to thank him for his many years of community service.  By 1935 failing health forced him to retire from public life.  

He died in his sleep at his home at the age of 61 years on May 29, 1939.  Dr. Serson was remembered for his 32 years of service to the Mimico both as a physician  and community leader.  He took an active interest in the development of educational facilities in Mimico, including the construction of Mimico High School.  He was also a member of the public school board for eight years.  On May 30, 1939 Mimico Town Council observed two minutes of silence in his memory.

His funeral on June 1 1939, began with a private service at his  Mimico Beach estate conducted by Rev Black of Wesley United Church with Rev. Fingland of Niagara Falls, former minister of the church.    

This was followed by a public service in Wesley United Church on Mimico Avenue that was attended by hundreds of people.  Mimico High School was closed for the afternoon so that students could attend.  The casket was banked with floral tributes from public bodies in Mimico, New Toronto, Long Branch and Toronto with which he had been associated.  These included the municipal councils of Mimico and New Toronto, students of Mimico High School, Lakeshore Lodge, Connaught Lodge, Mimico High School Board, Mimico Public School Board, Wardens and members of York County Council, Nobles of Ramses Temple, Toronto, St. Joseph's Hospital Auxiliary, graduates and staff of St. Joseph's Hospital, St. Joseph's Clinical Society, student nurses at St. Joseph's Hospital, Ontario Liberal Association, West York Liberal Association, Mimico Liberal Association, High Park Bowling Club, West Park Independent Order of Odd Fellows, New Toronto Liberal Association, Mimico Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire, Rotary Club and many other organizations.  Provincial and Mimico police cars headed the cortege of 200 cars to Park Lawn Cemetery where a Masonic service was held at the grave.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Wesley Mimico United Church - 2 Station Road

Wesley Mimico United Church - 2 Station Road

In 2012 Wesley Mimico United Church will be celebrating its 150th anniversary.  

Unfortunately, the church appears to be celebrating its anniversary by proposing the demolition of the historic building except for the tower, and building a seniors residence on the property.  While seniors housing is a laudable goal it should not be at the expense of this historic building.  They have not yet made a formal planning application to the city but this is currently what they are contemplating, as far as I understand.

Wesley Methodist Church (as it was originally known) has a long history in Mimico.  The first church was built shortly after the property on Church Street (Royal York Road today) was acquired in 1862.  This building accommodated the congregation until 1922 when it became too small.  The congregation then began construction of a new church on Station Road at Mimico Avenue.  The old church building was then sold to the Town of Mimico and became the municipal offices and council chamber.

Wesley Mimico United Church is a significant architectural and historical building in the former Town of Mimico.  Contextually, as a church placed on a corner lot at a major intersection in the neighbourhood, Wesley Mimico United Church is a landmark in the Mimico community.  It is an integral part of the institutional corridor of Mimico Avenue with its public schools and churches.  Wesley Mimico United Church is historically, visually and physically linked to its surroundings.

The original church on this property was built in 1922.  The architect was the renowned John Charles Batstone Horwood, assisted by his son Eric Horwood.  As members of the congregation when the family was in residence at their summer estate on Mimico Beach, the Horwoods (father and son) would have ensured that the church was of excellent design and materials.  The 1953 addition to the church which extended it closer to Mimico Avenue was designed by Eric Horwood, JCB's son alone.

When I discovered what the church was contemplating I contacted them and informed them that the building is listed under the Ontario Heritage Act and suggested that they should be looking at all possible arrangements within the existing structure, including seeking tenants or co-owners for various parts of the building.  I suggested that they should be publicizing the fact that they have a church building for which they are looking for partners in order to reach any potential collaborators in the protection and preservation of this important structure.

The building is currently listed under the Ontario Heritage Act but really needs to be designated under the act in order to preserve this important building for the future.

Hopefully, the church will be open to any potential ideas that allow the current historic building to be retained while at the same time allowing for new uses.  This would allow the church to seek the new uses that they are looking for, while still retaining this historical and architecturally significant landmark building in Mimico.

As a "listed" building the heritage planning professionals at the city are undoubtedly researching the building to determine if it should be designated under the Ontario Heritage Act.  However I have ensured this review by submitting a formal application for the building to be designated under the Ontario Heritage Act.  The heritage planning professionals will now review the attributes of the building against the criteria in the act to determine if designation under the Ontario Heritage Act is merited or not.

What you can do

You can send letters/emails of support to the Etobicoke-York Community Preservation Panel.  These can be sent to: 
Chair Mary Louise Ashbourne
Etobicoke-York Community Preservation Panel
Swansea Town Hall,
95 Lavinia Avenue,
Toronto, ON M6S 3H6

email:  mashbour [at] idirect [dot] com

Please also copy local Councillor Mark Grimes.  He can be reached at  If you could also copy me at mimicohistory [at] hotmail [dot] com that would be greatly appreciated.

A growing number of Mimico residents are coming together to protect Wesley Mimico United Church and persuade its congregation to stop explorations and development plans that involve the demolition of one of our community’s most architecturally and historically significant buildings.  You can visit their website by clicking here.

Update:  June 29, 2012

On June 25, 2012 the Church released a new design proposal that includes a redesign of the interior of the church within the existing walls, along with additions to accommodate future church, community and seniors housing.  You can view a slide presentation of the proposal by clicking here.  This new proposal is certainly more respectful of the building's heritage.  It will be important to ensure that any additions and alterations to the church buildings are complementary and not detrimental to this important community landmark.  Of course this is all preliminary and in the early stages of review.  However the movement from the original proposal to demolish the church except for the bell tower is encouraging.  

Update:  May 15, 2013

The Mimico Residents Association held a meeting on the proposed redevelopment of the Church site.  There was a question and answers session during which the proponent responded to written questions.  The Minutes of the meeting, including the questions and answers can be found here.

Update:  June 11, 2013

The development proposal for the Church is proceeding to the Etobicoke-York Community Council Meeting of June 18, 2013.  The Toronto Planning staff report provides preliminary information on the application and seeks Community Council's directions on further processing of the application and on the community consultation process.  A community consultation meeting is targeted for Fall, 2013. The statutory Public Meeting is expected to be held in the first quarter of 2014, provided the applicant provides all required information and addresses staff comments in a timely manner.

Heritage Preservation Services will be examining the proposal from a heritage point of view.  This includes the request to designate the building and appropriate interiors under the Ontario Heritage Act.  Having reviewed the application I have the following questions which I have passed along to Heritage Preservation Services:  

Alteration to Roof:

In the Heritage Impact Assessment they state that:  

“the proposed re-purposing of the building essentially conserves its heritage value to the community and does not remove or substantially alter its character-defining elements, with the exception of the lower portion of the Mimico Ave. frontage”.  

However they are radically altering the existing roof of the structure.  

The Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada published by Parks Canada which, as they note, is the document guiding the planning, stewardship and conservation approach for all listed (of which the Church building is one) and designated heritage resources in the City of Toronto; and which they used to assess the impact of the repurposing on the heritage elements of the building states on page 139:

“The roof is also an important architectural feature that contributes to a building’s form and aesthetics.”

With regard to any proposed alteration of existing roofs the Parks Canada Standard states the following on page 143:

Recommended:  Modifying or replacing a roof or roof element, to accommodate an expanded program, a new use, or applicable codes and regulations, in a manner that respects the building’s heritage value.

Not Recommended:  Constructing an addition that requires removing a character-defining roof.  Changing the configuration of a roof by adding new elements, such as dormer windows, vents or skylights, in a manner that negatively affects its heritage value.

The radical changes to the roofline that they are proposing “remove a character-defining roof”.  Therefore how is this consistent with and compatible with the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada?

Alteration of Main Entrance/Proposed Addition:

They are proposing to remove the existing front entrance to construct a new addition obscuring it and relocating it to the east side of the building.

The Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada published by Parks Canada states the following on page 132 with regard to additions or alterations to the exterior form:

Parks Canada recommends:  Selecting the location for a new addition that ensures that the heritage value of the place is maintained.

Parks Canada does not recommend:  Constructing a new addition that obscures, damages or destroys character-defining features of the historic building, such as relocating the main entrance.

While the report acknowledges that the addition in this location has an impact, it minimizes it.  How can they say that the proposal “will not detract from, but build on the character and significance of this heritage property” when the proposed addition on the south side of the building and the alteration to create a new entrance (even if original) are clearly not recommended by Parks Canada’s Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada

Proposed Addition to South Side of Building:

The Heritage Impact Assessment states that:  

“The new facade facing Mimico Avenue is designed to reflect this character-defining element, whereby the classical approach of three doorway arches will be recreated, repeating the symmetrical arrangement in an arcaded entrance.” 

Parks Canada recommends:  Designing a new addition in a manner that draws a clear distinction between what is historic and what is new

They do not recommend:  Duplicating the exact form, material, style and detailing of the original building in a way that makes the distinction between old and new unclear.

How can they say that the proposal “will not detract from, but build on the character and significance of this heritage property” when their design approach to the new south addition is clearly not recommended by Parks Canada’s Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada

Proposed Addition to North Side of Building:

There is minimal data available in the Heritage Impact Assessment on the proposed addition in the existing parking lot to the north.   With regard to new additions Parks Canada recommends in Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada:

Designing a new addition in a manner that draws a clear distinction between what is historic and what is new

They do not recommend:  Duplicating the exact form, material, style and detailing of the original building in a way that makes the distinction between old and new unclear.

Further Parks Canada recommends:  Designing an addition that is compatible in terms of materials and massing with the exterior form of the historic building and its setting.

They do not recommend:  Designing a new addition that has a negative impact on the heritage value of the historic building.

How has the north addition been designed to be consistent with these principles?

Alterations to the Interior:

The Heritage Impact Assessment states that the redevelopment approach includes:

“renovate the interior space completely, while conserving as many heritage attributes as possible”

What are the “many heritage attributes” and how will they be conserved as part of the complete “renovation” of the interior space which is essentially the obliteration of the existing interior and its replacement with parking in the basement and up to three stories of residential above?

Update June 12, 2013

The Mimico Residents Association has just posted the comments provided by Heritage Preservation Services (HPS) on the Church development proposal.  You can download them here.  HPS staff have identified the same concerns that I have expressed as well as additional ones.  

The conclusion of the memo states:

The current proposal demonstrates a level of intervention that cannot be supported by staff.  However, there may be opportunities to rehabilitate the building with modifications to the current proposal that would limit the impact on the heritage attributes. Staff is hopeful that these issues can be resolved through further discussion with the applicant in conjunction with a revised proposal that is consistent with generally-accepted heritage conservation standards and principles.  An objective and complete Heritage Impact Assessment should accompany any revisions to the proposal.  Staff will be recommending designation of the property at 2 Station Road under the provisions of Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act.

Update September 24, 2013

The city of Toronto Planning Department is proceeding with a report to the October 3, 2013 meeting of the Toronto Preservation Board recommending that Wesley Mimico United Church be designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act.  

A copy of the staff report with the detailed evaluation and rationale for the intent to designate can be found here.  Letters of support can be addressed to "Chair Saunders and Members of Toronto Preservation Board" and can be emailed to Janette Gerrard, the committee secretary at jgerrar [at] toronto [dot] ca.

Update October 4, 2013

At its meeting on October 3, 2013, the Toronto Preservation Board adopted the recommendation that Wesley Mimico United Church be designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act with a small amendment that removed the interior from the list of historical attributes.  The recommendation will now proceed to the next meeting of the Etobicoke-York Community Council on October 17, 2013 for consideration.

Update October 18, 2013

At its meeting of October 17, 2013, the Etobicoke-York Community Council unanimously adopted the amended recommendation from the Toronto Preservation Board that the city declare its intent to designate the Wesley Mimico United Church under the Ontario Heritage Act.  The recommendation will now proceed to the Toronto City Council meeting of November 13, 2013 for consideration.

Update November 13, 2013

At its meeting of November 13, 2013, Toronto City Council adopted the amended recommendation from the Etobicoke-York Community Council that the city declare its intent to designate the Wesley Mimico United Church under the Ontario Heritage Act.  

The next step is for the city to notify the owner, and issue a notice of the intent to designate the property under the Act.  If there are no appeals against the intent to designate the property during the appeal period (30 days) the City will bring forward the bylaw designating the property under the Ontario Heritage Act at a later date (usually a few months).  If there is an appeal then there will be a hearing before the Conservation Review Board.  The Board will hear evidence and issue a decision.  The decision is final.

Update May 30, 2014

On Thursday June 5th the Toronto Preservation Board will consider a report from Heritage Preservation Services on the Church's proposal to alter the building.

The Church has been working on a plan for the past few years in order to re-imagine itself, and redevelop the building to provide senior's housing, worship and community space

The report can be found here:

I will be writing in support of the proposed conditions to approval, as they relate to the treatment of the heritage elements of the building, including the oversight that Heritage Preservation Services staff will have as the development moves through the Site Plan Approval Stage and construction, which includes, among other things, the placing of a Heritage Easement on the building to protect it.  

Of course this is all conditional on Etobicoke York Community Council and Toronto City Council giving its approval to the proposed development later in June.  I am not taking a position on the planning aspects of the proposed development.

Should you wish to provide comments to the Toronto Preservation Board they can be addressed to "Robert Saunders, Chair and Members of the Toronto Preservation Board" and emailed to

Update June 6, 2014

The recommendations were adopted by the Toronto Preservation Board at their meeting of June 5, 2014.  They will now track with the planning staff report on the development application to the Etobicoke York Community Council meeting of June 17, 2014.  The planning staff report for the proposed development can be found here.  Planning staff are recommending approval of the proposed redevelopment of the building.

Update June 17, 2014

Today the Etobicoke-York Community Council adopted the planning staff report related to the development application, as well as the recommendations from the Toronto Preservation Board.  Both reports will proceed to Toronto City Council on July 8, 2014 for consideration.

Update July 8, 2014

Toronto City Council has adopted the recommendation from Etobicoke-York Community Council.

Update January 20, 2016

Today it was announced by Wesley Mimico United Church that they were cancelling the project.  They posted the following on their website:

On January 14th, the Board unanimously passed the following motion:

In spite of persistent efforts and many successes in overcoming obstacles along the way toward full implementation of the Project Vision, and, in light of the current status of the renewal project, The Board of Wesley Mimico Place regretfully resolves to wind down the renewal project and instructs management to take the necessary steps toward appropriate conclusion of this work.

A hard, disappointing decision! But a responsible decision given a funding gap, insufficient sales of units, and unachievable construction loan requirements.

Update - June 7, 2016

On June 14, 2016 Etobicoke-York Community Council will consider an item to revoke the planning approval for the project since they have been notified by the Board of Wesley Mimico Place that the project will not be proceeding.

Update - January 1, 2017

The building has been sold and a Montessori School is setting up in the church.  I understand that the new owner is working with Heritage Preservation Planning staff at the city on the renovations.  However, despite the fact that the stain glass windows were part of the designation under the Ontario Heritage Act prior to the sale the church illegally removed them from the building.  City staff have decided not to pursue this violation.