On my latest visit to the Toronto archives I fell in love with the Yonge street of the 1850s up until the 1950s. The buildings and the shops had so much character, the people had such interesting attire and the machines and vehicles throughout the ages make you wonder about how aspects of people’s lives differed from our current generations’.
The 86 kilometre street predates Canada and was used as a major artery to support new settlements throughout Ontario as well as provide military communications between York (Toronto) and the upper lakes.
Ontario’s first colonial administrator, John Graves Simcoe, built the roads mainly as a strategic play worried that the United States would enter British North America in support of their French allies. He named the street after his friend Sir George Yonge, a British Secretary at War.
The construction took place in the 1790s and began with the building and connecting of two roads. The first would run north from York (Toronto) to Lake aux Claies (Lake Simcoe). The second would join Lake Simcoe with Georgian Bay. This allowed easy land transport to the upper lakes while bypassing the U.S. strongholds in the area. These streets were named Yonge Street and Penetanguishene Road.