An ongoing research project of the Ontario Genealogical Society, Toronto Branch

Gould Street Fire consumes a bit of Toronto’s past

The fire at Yonge and Gould Streets yesterday consumed the upper stories of a 19th century commercial building that was built in 1888 by William Reynolds on property he purchased in 1847. Reynolds was one of the first bakers in Toronto and his shop was situated at the corner of Yonge and Gould.  This morning, The Star detailed the history of this site back to that purchase.  Here at Simcoe’s Gentry, we can identify its origins from the original survey in 1793, when it was designated as part of Park Lot 8.

Peter McGill, born Peter McCutcheon, nephew and heir to John McGill.

As described in the Introduction, these lots were made available upon petition to the government of Upper Canada.  Park Lot 8 ran from today’s Bloor Street to Queen West and from Yonge Street to Bond Street, long and narrow, as were all the Park Lots.  It was originally granted to George Playter on September 4, 1793 and he was issued the patent (or deed) on 24 Aug 1796.  Just under a year later, in June 1797, Playter and his wife Elizabeth sold the south forty acres (from today’s McGill Street, southwards, including the site of yesterday’s fire) to the Honorable John McGill, who also owned Park Lot 7 (running from Bond Street to Mutual Street).

Playter also owned property west of the Don River above Castle Frank near the intersection of today’s Bloor Street E and Bayview. His son had property directly across the river and part of that area is known today as Playter Estates.

In 1799, the north 60 acres of Park Lots 7, 8, 9 and 10 were acquired by the Honorable John Elmsley, leaving McGill with an 80-acre block from Queen to McGill and Yonge to Mutual Street. At the time of his death in 1834, John McGill’s estate passed to his nephew, Peter McGill, then President of the Bank of Montreal, who had taken the surname McGill in 1821 at the request of his childless uncle.

The scope of our research doesn’t extend to how the property ended up with William Reynolds, but the stories behind the origins of this and other Park Lots are a fascinating look at yesterday’s Toronto.

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