Some History of the St. Andrew's Area
Historical Aerial Photographs
As described at the Toronto Archives web site, between 1937 and 1942 aerial photographs (referred to as "Series 97, Aerial Photographs of Valley Lands") were taken of the "Valley Lands", and their "File 6" is of the St. Andrew's area. I have spent some time with the plug-in needed to view the photographs, Photoshop, and Google Earth to find out more about our area and the golf course which used to be here.
In this this photograph (north is up on all photographs), we can see:
- Yonge Street to the left, and York Mills Road at the bottom. Note that Wilson Avenue has not yet been extended to Yonge Street, and what we now call Old York Mills Road (at the current south entrance to the York Mills subway station) is what meets Yonge Street.
- North of York Mills Road, we can see the distinctive curve of York Ridge Road. And to the right of that, Old Yonge Street which has a straight section, and above that, it curves around the valley. Above the curve, it joins Yonge Street (there is no Upper Canada Drive or Lord Seaton Road).
- The St. Andrew's Golf Course appears to extend from the south side of the backyards of Lower Links Road to where Lord Seaton Road is today. The entrance to the golf course appears to be the Links Road, where it runs east from the centre of the curve of Old Yonge Street (with a long line of trees on the south side, and a shorter line of trees on the north side). Tournament Drive was then just a path running east along the centre of the golf course (you can probably use the Ctrl + and Ctrl - key combination to zoom in and out of the photograph, and use the scroll bars to pan). The streets built where the golf course was which don't have golf-related names (Links, Foursome ...) are actually named in honour of famous Canadian golfers, such as Balding Court for Al Balding and Montressor Drive for Bert Montressor (whose grandson lives in the neighbourhood).
- It is very interesting to note how few trees were here. Other than a strip along the north side of St. John's Anglican church, there are only trees in the ravines (this means the trees were first cleared for farming, not for our houses).
- St. John's Anglican Church and the cemetery (with curving road running east to Old Yonge Street, and stone fence to the south) can be clearly seen. Cars are parked on the north and east sides and the current parking lot is not yet there. Those of you who walk down the "church path" to Yonge Street likely have read the sign usually there which notes that the current path was in exchange for an earlier path, and the path in this photograph is in fact different than it is now. Here the path begins at the narthex at the west end of the church. It may have been necessary to relocate the path towards Yonge Street due to houses being built to the south of the church. Or perhaps as more houses were built it was desired to not have people end up at the door of the church. Interestingly, looking at page 8 of the background file for the 4155 Yonge Street proposed project shows that just south of that parking lot is a narrow strip of land called "Church Lane". Today this is a strip of trees (which are in straight lines, so are not random forest) running east of Yonge Street, just south of the massive advertising sign south of the parking lot (which is south of the Swiss Chalet restaurant). It is possible to walk up the ravine, and you end up just north of the flagpole at the top of the current church path. It is a steep walk, and would certainly be the most direct path from Yonge Street to the church, but there doesn't seem to be any evidence of stairs that would have been needed if that was ever used.
Showing more of this photograph, we can see that before Highway 401 was built, there was at this time a bridge over the valley (you can see the shadows of the bridge supports just west of Yonge Street).
- Mill Street is at the bottom of the photograph.
- At the top of the photograph (north of where the bridge joins Yonge Street) is the Forest Lawn Mausoleum, it has just two of the four present buildings, and has a beautiful driveway (perhaps with circular fountains in front of each building) directly off of Yonge Street (currently, the entrance is instead to the east, to accomodate the on-ramp to west-bound highway 401).
- Yonge Boulevard is on the west side of the valley, and to the north it merges with the bridge over the valley.
- Sandringham Drive runs east from Yonge Boulevard, all the way from north of Wilson Avenue (just north of where the Canadian Forces College is now), crosses Yonge Boulevard and continues west along the top of the valley.
- Wilson Avenue only extends east as far as Mason Boulevard, and Loretto Abbey is on the east side (due to regrading for the Wilson Avenue hill, Mason Boulevard no longer extends to Wilson Avenue).
- This image from Google Earth is of the same area, so you can compare what has changed in 70 years.
This is the entire photograph (in high resolution, so you can zoom in to see individual cars and bushes), and we can see:
- Sheppard Avenue at the top (the street that extends on both sides of Yonge Street).
- Highland Crescent is along the north side of the valley at the lower-right.