Monday, January 17, 2011

Caesar Coxhead House - 60 Stanley Avenue

Caesar Coxhead House - 60 Stanley Avenue
© Michael Harrison 2010


One of the oldest houses in Mimico is the Caesar Coxhead House at 60 Stanley Avenue.  Built by 1889 (and certainly much earlier) at the top of Superior Avenue it would originally have had a beautiful view of the Superior Creek Valley and Lake Ontario.


Caesar Coxhead
courtesy of The Mimico Story


Caesar Coxhead was born in the County of Wellington on February 10, 1860.  His ancestors were originally from Oxfordshire in England, emigrating to New York.  They later came to Canada living first in Markham and then Pilkington Township in Wellington County.

When he was 18 years of age Caesar apprenticed as a carpenter with his older brother Jonas in Guelph.  In 1884 he was married to Miss Eliza Golby of Galt, Ontario.  In 1885 he began work as a contractor and builder.  Caesar and Eliza moved to Toronto and lived in Parkdale but moved to Mimico in 1889.   The house can clearly be seen in the 1890 Goad's Fire Insurance Plan.  At the time it stood alone surrounded by vacant fields.  Caesar and his wife would raise their six children and live in their Mimico home for many years.


Caesar Coxhead Residence - corner of Superior Avenue and Stanley Avenue
Goad's 1890 Fire Insurance Plan


The design of the house is interesting.  It appears to have originally been rectangular in shape, with a later Victorian addition made to the south (front) facade.  However the image on the 1890 fire insurance plan appears to take the addition into account.  As such, it appears that Caesar Coxhead purchased an existing earlier house (built earlier than 1889) and built the addition to the front of the house.


 Caesar Coxhead Residence - West Elevation
© Michael Harrison 2010


Looking at the west elevation of the house you will note the difference in the colour of the brick between the original house on the left and the addition on the right.  You will also notice the difference in the foundation wall.  In the older part of the house on the left it is stone, while on the right it is concrete.  The original house was built to take advantage of the natural slope of the Superior Creek valley with windows and a walkout from the basement level on the west side.

  Caesar Coxhead Residence - Chimney detail
© Michael Harrison 2010

 Caesar Coxhead Residence - south (front) gable detail
© Michael Harrison 2010

The Coxhead Residence is "listed" under the Ontario Heritage Act and appears in the City of Toronto's Heritage Inventory though not fully protected by being a designated structure under the Act.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mimico Fire Hall and Police Station - 13 Superior Avenue - DEMOLISHED

Town of Mimico Fire Hall and Police Station
© Michael Harrison 2008

The Town of Mimico's last remaining municipal building is still standing at 13 Superior Avenue.  It is the former Fire Hall and Police Station.  Both the Town Hall and Public Utilities Building which were on Church Street (now Royal York Road) were demolished long ago.

Mimico Fire Hall
 courtesy of the Horwood Collection, Archives of Ontario

The Firehall and Police Station was designed in 1929 by James Procter and Redfern Ltd. There is a copy of the plans in the Horwood Collection at the Archives of Ontario. Construction proceeded in the summer of 1929 and was completed by the fall. The building was given its official opening in late September/early October 1929. The total cost was $7,500. The builder was Andrew Crowe, who was a prominent individual in the Town of Mimico. When he was killed by a falling wall in 1932, Mimico Council passed a resolution of sympathy indicating that he was “held in high regard amongst his fellow builders and the townspeople in general”. Sometime later a second storey was added to the building.

 Police and Fireman Have New Quarters
The Advertiser October 3, 1929

This building is threatened by a condominium development called 11 Superior by Davies-Smith Developments as it does not appear on the proposed site plan.   I have written to the developer asking them to take the initiative and protect and preserve this historic building as part of the development of 11 Superior and find an imaginative re-use for this building so that it will continue to provide a link to the past.

I pointed out that their architects have done such an amazing job with the rejuvenation of the Lang Tannery in Kitchener that I am sure they could find a creative re-use for 13 Superior.  I told them that I am confident that they can create an amazing project at 11 Superior that will act as a catalyst for rejuvenation in Mimico while at the same time protecting and preserving this important building as part of a win-win situation for both the developer and the community.

I have also written to Heritage Preservation Services at the City of Toronto requesting that the building be protected through designation under the Ontario Heritage Act.

Imminent Threat of Demolition
The Mimico Fire Hall is under imminent threat of demolition.  The 11 Superior development proposal will be proceeding to Etobicoke York Community Council for consideration on June 22, 2011.

You can view the planning staff report here:
http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2011.EY8.1

The report recommends that the city approve the development application.  In discussing the Mimico Fire Hall the planning report states the following:

The property at 13 Superior Avenue is listed on the City of Toronto’s Inventory of Heritage Properties, adopted by City Council in 2006, and was previously included on Etobicoke’s Inventory of Heritage Properties, for its cultural heritage value. 
The final revisions of this application propose the retention of a dog-bone shaped stone feature and a cornice, with a fa├žade design that suggests the original mass and location of the Fire Hall.  A commemorative plaque is also proposed.  Although not an optimal solution from a conservation  standpoint, this approach represents an improvement over the previous proposal permitted under Zoning  By-law 971-2003.  Under the previous proposal, the Fire Hall building would have been demolished in  place of an underground garage entrance for the proposed 7-storey building. In view of the above, the proposed development is acceptable subject to a comprehensive and fitting  Interpretation Plan being developed and implemented to commemorate the Fire Hall as an institution of  importance in Mimico and documentation of the building prior to its demolition


What You Can Do

If you would like to support the protection and preservation of the Mimico Fire Hall and Police Station you can write to Etobicoke-York Community Council indicating that as part of the development of 11 Superior the Mimico Fire Hall should be retained and incorporated into the development.  Please address your comments to Councillor Grimes, Chair and Members of Etobicoke-York Community Council and email them to etcc@toronto.ca.
  The easier way to do this would be to click on the "Submit Comments" button at the top of the planning staff report (link above).  An email will then automatically open already addressed and you simply type your comments in.

A copy of my written submission is below:


Decision of Etobicoke-York Community Council June 22, 2011

On June 22, 2011 the Etobicoke-York Community Council adopted the staff recommendation and approved the development which allows for the Mimico Fire Hall to be demolished.  The recommendation will proceed to Toronto City Council on July 12, 2011 for consideration.

Decision of Toronto City Council - July 12, 2011

On July 12, 2011 Toronto City Council adopted the recommendation from Etobicoke York Community Council with a slight amendment to reduce the cash payment the developer owes to the city under section 37 of the Planning Act.
http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2011.EY8.1


Appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board - May 28, 2012

The final approval of the development has been appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board by local residents.  The hearing is scheduled to begin on May 28, 2012.

After a one day hearing the Ontario Municipal Board dismissed the appeal and approved the development.  A written decision will be issued at a later date.

Update March 2013

The building has been demolished.  Construction of the 11 Superior condominium project is underway.  http://elevensuperior.com/default.html