Sunday, 9 January 2011

OGS Toronto Branch researches the city's Park Lots

The following is based on information from OGS Toronto Branch via Gwyneth Pearce:

Simcoe’s Gentry is a searchable web-based resource showcasing the results of a Toronto Branch project to document the history of city’s Park Lots.

The Park Lots were exclusive properties carved out in the 1790s just north of the newly-surveyed Town of York under the direction of Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe. A typical Park Lot was 100 acres in size, ten times as deep as it was wide, with a narrow frontage on what is now Queen Street, to allow all owners access to the town and harbour, and extending north to today’s Bloor Street.

Simcoe handpicked the settlers who would receive these prestigious estate lots—prominent individuals who he felt were best suited to be community leaders in the new capital of Upper Canada and ultimately help govern the province. Many of Simcoe’s gentry also owned land in townships elsewhere in what was to become southern Ontario. All of the Park Lot grantees were free to subdivide their acreages and lay out streets within them, as they wished. The decisions they made literally shaped the downtown Toronto that we know today.

The Simcoe’s Gentry project is a collection of research articles, each written by a volunteer author and reviewed by a dedicated editorial team, and each thoroughly documenting the story behind part or all of an original Park Lot.

Contributors include members of the Toronto Branch, other genealogists and historians, and even some descendants of the Park Lot owners. Work on the project continues. New articles will be added regularly and existing articles augmented as additional sources become available. Reader feedback and contributions are most welcome.

To stay up to date on the evolving project you can subscribe to the Simcoe’s Gentry blog at the website.

For more information about the Simcoe’s Gentry project and the Toronto Branch, contact Jane MacNamara by e-mail at or leave a message at 416-733-2608.

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