62ometimes those stories are right under our noses, inplaces we take for granted. Consider Jarvis Street. If youknow it today, you likely think of it as a (relatively) quick,four-lane, north-south route through the downtown. It's been inthe news this past year for that reason. City Council hasdebated tirelessly whether bike lanes should occupy some ofthe space, or whether it should be preserved as a high trafficthroughway strictly for cars. It's hard to believe that Jarvis Street, along with Sherbourne to theeast, used to be the residential address in Toronto. In the early1800s, the land where Jarvis Street is today was the centre of oneof Toronto's original park lots -- a long and narrow, massiveproperty between Queen and Bloor, granted by the Crown to onegovernment official, William Jarvis. The property was subdividedfor residential development in 1845 after the Jarvis family raninto scandal and debt, and the appropriately named Jarvis Streetwas made a main street through its centre. Jarvis Street's upper reaches were the city's Rosedale before therewas a Rosedale. At its height in the late 19th century, the streetwas the home to Toronto's now iconic families. Ever heard of theMasseys (as in Massey Hall) or the Gooderhams (as in theGooderham and Worts Distillery), or the McMasters (as inMcMaster University)? They all built homes on this street in thegrandest styles of their day, designed by Toronto's top architects.Forget Rosedale. This was the Bridle Path. Try this.Ask people to give you thefirst thought that pops into their headwhen you say "Toronto." Chances arethey won't say "history." Unlike Romeor London, England or even Montrealor Halifax for that matter, Toronto is nota city known for its storied past. I thinkit should be, and so do my colleagues atHeritage Toronto. At Heritage Toronto,we run free walking tours, createhistorical plaques, offer lectures, andpresent awards (among other things),all in the effort to highlight the greatstories of this city. Those stories caninspire us all to love this city's history asmuch as its renowned live theatre andmusic scene, or its fabulous shopping. By Gary MiedemaTORONTO'S OTHER BRIDLE PATHof JarvisSTHEMANSIONSA lush and green Jarvis Street in 1916, before it waswidened to accommodate greater automobile traffic. Cityof Toronto Archives, Series 372, Subseries 52, Item 644.
63Best of all, a good number of those homes still exist today. Ifyou've ever dropped into the Keg Mansion, you've appreciatedwhat McMaster money could build, and what Massey money couldrenovate. This landmark on Jarvis Street was designed by theimportant architectural firm Gundry and Langley, and built in1868 for Arthur McMaster. Arthur was the head of a largewholesale dry goods firm, and the nephew of William McMaster, afounder of the Canadian Bank of Commerce and the namesake ofMcMaster University. The house was sold in 1882 to Hart Massey,the head of the family that made their fortune producing farmimplements through the Massey Manufacturing Company (laterMassey-Harris) reputed to be the largest such manufacturer in theBritish Empire. Today, you can go for a steak at the Keg and appreciate whatmoney could buy in terms of home décor in the late 19th century.When you re-emerge from the front door, you can look next doorto see the house designed by E.J. Lennox (architect of Old CityHall and Casa Loma). It was built for Hart's son, and was thechildhood home of two more famous Massey's: Vincent, Canada'sfirst Canadian-born Governor-General, and Raymond, theHollywood and Broadway actor. In a beautiful sky-lit room to thenorth, their father proudly hung his collection of Dutch art. Acrossthe road and to the north is 504 Jarvis, designed in 1889 by theGooderham family's favourite architect, David Roberts Jr., for the21-year-old George Horace Gooderham. George Horace was clearlyprivileged to be the son of the President of the Gooderham andWorts Distillery. The stunning interior of the Romanesque-Revivalhome has also been immaculately maintained and has been opento the public as a restaurant. Though these houses remain, Jarvis street looks nothing like it didwhen they were built. Have a look at late 19th and early 20thcentury photos of the street, however, and you might understand.Above: McMaster House, later Euclid Hall, circa 1920.City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 281.Right: The Massey family's Euclid Hall at 519 JarvisStreet, now the Keg Mansion. Photo by Marta O'Brien.