Monday, April 30, 2012

Dull day antidote

Photo by Barry Wallace
Forsythia on Keele Street

Last Thursday's cool, overcast, wet weather was mitigated around the township wherever there were Forsythia shrubs bursting forth with their optimistic yellow blooms.   This hedge was on Keele Street south of the 17th Sideroad.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Friday, April 27, 2012

Round the Bend Farm ~ 2nd barn

Photo by Barry Wallace

The communities of King Township have once again helped the Feddema family, of Kettleby, to recover from last year's devastating turkey barn fires.   An old-fashioned community barn-raising took place this past Saturday which resulted in a huge leap forward at replacing the the 2nd barn at Round the Bend Farms.    

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Oldest recorded grave in King

Photos by Barry Wallace

son of
Gabriel & Elizabeth
May 6, 1833 
AE 1 yr 3 mo's
& 5 da's

I have always assumed that the oldest recorded graves in King Township would be in the Lloydtown Pioneer Cemetery, given its ancient local history.   But the distinction goes to Nobelton Community Cemetery.   Baby George Hawman's internment at Nobleton, in May of 1833 predates the earliest recorded burial at Lloydtown Pioneer Cemetery by 17 months, when Jane Pinkerton (age 58) was the first to be buried there in September of 1835.   Apparently the first burial at Schomberg occurred sometime in 1833 but there is no record of who it was.   The Quaker Meeting House in Schomberg dates from 1816 and is now part of the Schomberg Union Cemetery.   The Hawmen plots lie in the shade of an old, sprawling birch tree (pictured below).   One of the stones is seen under the branches on the right.   Other Hawmen stones are pictured further below.   My source for this information are the Ontario Genealogical Society's cemetery listings for Nobleton, Schomberg and Lloydtown.   The society has published 26 of these pamphlets for all the cemeteries of King Township and I have a copy of each.   They certainly save a lot of time and legwork.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Duck's view of new condos

Photo by Barry Wallace

The Residences of Spring Hill luxury adult-lifestyle condominiums rise above the adjacent wetlands on the south side of the King Road, west of Keele Street in King City.   The condos will have a commanding view of a large part of the village upon completion.
Please comment if you wish.
Barry Wallace

Friday, April 20, 2012

King City trail along the East Humber River

Photos by Barry Wallace

It's sad to see artistic talent misplaced.   I'm not talking about talent wasted on a particular style of art.   Everyone to his or her own taste.   I believe there is a place for taggers or "bombers" with spray paint cans.   I do not, however, think a natural-looking wooden bridge spanning the East Humber River in one of the prettiest, pastoral settings in the village of King City is the place for this inappropriate, if not jarring, work of art.   Fortunately I was quickly distracted by the antics of the Muskrat, pictured below, which was thoroughly enjoying itself in the water under the bridge.   Further along the trail there was a moment to watch a Garter Snake soaking up the sun on a slightly chilly day.   Hopefully the King Works Department will address the tagging/bombing issue and my sensibilities will be restored.

Please comment if you wish.
Barry Wallace  

Thursday, April 19, 2012

St. Andrew's at Eversley for sale

Photos by Barry Wallace

I ran the photograph above in this space just over three weeks ago.   I took the photo below yesterday and it is obvious that someone felt a much bolder 'FOR SALE' message was needed.   The uses for the old St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church at Eversley are somewhat restricted and it will be very interesting to see what its imminent fate is.   Meanwhile, is a full-size billboard in the offing?   I'm joking of course about a giant billboard but there is great interest in the fate of this King Township landmark.   We shall see what we shall see.

Please comment if you wish.
Barry Wallace

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Houses come tumbling down

Photos by Barry Wallace

Making way for new bank
Three King Road houses in King City disappeared on Tuesday morning of this week, to make way for the construction of a new bank and other businesses.   The three houses were located on the southwest corner of the King Road and Banner Lane, west of the Township of King municipal offices.  Large new residential developments in all four quadrants of King City are underway and new commercial development is undeniably following.   In this writer's opinion, the scope of change facing the village is as dramatic as any in its 200-year history, including the coming of the railroad in 1853. 

Please comment if you wish.
Barry Wallace

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The man who brought GM to King City

Aubrey J. "Doc" Gordon was born June 22, 1907, in King City, and was raised on the Gordon family farm in Laskay, on the 6th Concession of King Township, across the road from the Laskay Emporium.   His father and grandfather had been on their farm since the mid-1800s.   The East Humber River flowed into the farm from the east and curled out at the back of the 100 acres, in the west.   "Doc" started repairing the farm equipment and vehicles at home as a teenager and gained a reputation for being able to repair anything.   He left home and worked on a local farm, further up the 6th in Strange, before going to work for B.J. Langdon, at his Keele Street garage in King City, just south of the King Road.   B.J. Langdon would become the founder of Langdon's Coach Lines and school bus business.   "Doc" left Langdon's and opened his own business in a small wooden one-bay building, on the King Road, that is now recognized as the bright, yellow, chinese restaurant that recently went out of business.   "Doc" married Florence Edgar and they moved into a red brick house a little further along the King Road, on the south side of the street.   Two children, Thelma and Donald,  rounded out the family.   Across the road from their home was an open field and "Doc" decided to build his own auto repair garage, on that spot.   His new garage opened in 1938.   After WWII, there was a pent-up demand for new automobiles and "Doc" Gordon determined he would fill the need.   He successfully landed a General Motors dealership for Chevrolets and Oldsmobiles in King Township.   Demand for new cars exceeded the supply and "Doc" was hard pressed to satisfy everyone.   His business thrived but his health faltered and after a heart attack in 1950 and upon the advice of his doctor, "Doc" built a new house for his family further east along the King Road and sold the car business to Bill Drinkwater.   Subsequent owners included Charles Leslie, Peter Boyd, Lawrie Veal and Alex Williamson, who also owned a Chev-Olds dealership in Uxbridge.   More than 60 years after "Doc" Gordon  brought GM to King, the dealership was given up and the building razed.   On April 29, 2010, a large, new Shoppers Drug Mart opened on the old "Doc" Gordon Garage site.  

        Aubrey J. "Doc" Gordon                                                  Florence (Edgar) Gordon

Photos from the Gordon Family Collection

In the 1938 photo above, Thelma, daughter of "Doc" and Florence Gordon, is seen in front of the garage's gas pumps, with the family's Newfoundland dog, Tarzan.   Later, a second Newfoundland dog, named Rubin, took over as the family pet and unofficial mascot of the garage.

The Gordon family lived above the garage for all the years that "Doc" owned and operated the garage and car dealership.   The family occupied the second floor while the third floor was utilized as tire storage.   In the middle of the last century,  there were those who underestimated the contribution of wives to family businesses, but "Doc" Gordon's son Donald (also nick-named "Doc") says his mother "...could run the two flights of stairs carrying two tires".   Florence was also the business's bookkeeper.

Pictured above, shortly after the opening of his new garage, "Doc" Gordon, above right, is seen with his employees, Wilf Bayliss (his cousin) left, and Charles "Red" Gordon (his brother) centre.   Later, "Doc" also employed another of his brothers: Verdun "Stash" Gordon.   Cement blocks for the new 3-storey building were made on the site.

As the business grew, two extra service bays were added on the west side of the building, while on the east side, an enclosed entrance to the upper living quarters was added.   Gasoline and oil products were the Red Indian brand, which was later taken over by Texaco.

"Doc" Gordon is pictured above, at left, in this picture taken around 1947, after he had secured the Chev-Olds dealership.   Texaco signs had replaced the Red Indian signs.   Houses to the east of the garage, along the north side of the King Road, did not exist when the garage was built 10 years earlier.   One former employee of both "Doc" Gordon and Bill Drinkwater was a young Ken MacQuarrie who opened his own garage on Keele Street South, in King City.   Ken  has owned and operated Clearview Motors, in the south end of the village for the past 53 years...but that is a story for another day.   "Doc" Gordon left King City and moved into a new house he had built back in Laskay, where he had grown up.   The last house he lived in was in Alliston.   As for that nickname "Doc", his son Donald says that "Doc" inherited the nickname from his father and his grandfather, who were both farmers and had reputations as "lay" veterinarians among their neighbours.   As far as I know, Aubrey "Doc" Gordon, and his son Donald, were never horse doctors, but the nickname has spanned four generations.  A. J. "Doc" Gordon passed away  just over 32 years ago, on March 16, 1980.   He was buried in King City Cemetery.     

Shoppers Drug Mart now occupies the site of the former "Doc" Gordon Garage, on the north side of the King Road in King City.

Please comment if you wish.
Barry Wallace

Monday, April 16, 2012

Objections turned up a notch

Photos by Barry Wallace

Spray paint has defaced signs connected to a piece of land, on Keele Street north in King City, that has been proposed for housing development, adjacent to existing estate-type housing.   The Township of King has already received, in its council chambers, public expressions of opposition by neighbouring residents.   A rezoning request is being asked for permission to build 45 townhouse units, plus four single-dwelling residential lots, described by the developer as "medium density".   Now, some seemingly unknown objector(s) has decided to protest in a more visually graphic fashion.
Please comment if you wish.
Barry Wallace

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Kettle lakes ~ moraine gems

Photos by Barry Wallace

MStarcliff Nature ReserveM

One of the prettiest views of an Oak Ridges Moraine kettle lake, in King Township, is to be found on the south side of the  17th Sideroad, north-east of Nobleton.   It is part of the Starcliff Nature Reserve, an 18-acre property donated to the Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust by Beth Harper and family in 2005.   In addition to the kettle lake, the site is also designated as a provincially significant wetland.   The Land Trust is assisted in its work at Starcliff by A Rocha, a religious organization that assists with community-based conservation projects.   Starcliff is not open to the public but volunteers can work on A Rocha projects from time-to-time.   Interested volunteers can contact A Rocha at

Please comment if you wish.
Barry Wallace

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Dufferin Marsh ~ bat house

Photo by Barry Wallace

I was looking for kingfishers at the Dufferin Marsh on Wednesday and came across the item pictured above.   This bat house stands near the west side of the south pond, at Dufferin Marsh, in Schomberg.   The bat box itself is atop a pole, almost 4 metres above the ground.   It has only been in place since last fall.   Mary Asselstine of the Dufferin Marsh Committee tells me the box is an original design and hand-made by Jimmy Dala of Schomberg.   The colour of the box is black, which absorbs the heat of the day and warms the bats at night.   The box will be watched closely this spring and summer for occupants...probably Little Brown Bats.
Bat Photo ~ Wikipedia/Don Pfritzer

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Eaton Hall photos ~ circa 1940

Here are some photos of Eaton Hall, shortly after its completion, which I recently came across on the site.   The site is put up by Richard of Muddy York Walking Tours (   His Toronto Then & Now blog is a photographic history of the city of Toronto.   One of his blogs covered the Eaton family quite extensively and the photos here are taken from that entry.   The construction of Eaton Hall was begun in 1937 and completed in 1939, just a year or so before these photographs were taken.   The photo below shows a hunt club gathered in front of Villa Fiora, the first Eaton estate house built on the property.   Sadly Villa Fiora has fallen into a state of disrepair and is boarded up, seemingly doomed for demolition.  

Lady Eaton is seen above, in the right foreground, with members of the hunt at Eaton Hall.
(These photos  appear to be sourced from the City  of Toronto Archives)

Please comment if you wish.
Barry Wallace

Monday, April 9, 2012