A BRIEF HISTORY OF MARKLAND WOOD
I. THE FIRST NATIONS
Little is known about the first human occupants in the Etobicoke area, following the retreat of the last ice sheet between 11,000 and 12,000 years ago. Even though the most recent First Nation occupants, the Mississaugas, left only 150 years ago, written records are unfortunately sparse.
What is known is that the Mississaugas had a traditional homeland at the head of Lake Huron midway between Sault Sainte Marie and Sudbury. They were one of five Ojibwa groups, members of the Algonquian language family, who in the 17th and 18th centuries started to migrate southwards and westwards.
They eventually controlled the entire stretch of land roughly between Niagara to Trenton and from the north shore of Lake Ontario to the edge of the Canadian Shield. They brought with them their seasonally mobile life of fishing, hunting and gathering.
Given this timing, it was the Mississaugas who interacted most extensively with the early settlers of the 19th century. One of the most familiar legacies of this interaction is the naming of present day locations by the European settlers using the language of the Mississaugas, eg:
- Etobicoke (Wah-do-be-kaung) means "the place where the alders grow"
- Mimico means "resting place of wild pigeons"
The Mississaugas preferred name for themselves, in Ojibwa, is "Anishinabe", or "human beings".
II. THE EUROPEAN ARRIVAL
The Mississauga Nation signed its first treaty with the Europeans, the "Toronto Purchase" in 1787. Settlers started arriving about the same time as the Township of Etobicoke was created (1800). The first census of 1805 showed a population of only 84 settlers.
Although the population was small, the European concept of land ownership quickly blanketed the entire area. One of the first acts of the Crown (the government) was the drawing of township lines, concession lines and lot lines. The land survey imposed a grid of 200 acre farms with road allowances 66 feet wide.
Most of the early European arrivals were United Empire Loyalists, supporters of the British constitutional monarchy as opposed to those who had favoured American independence. Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe hoped to re-establish British dominance in North America by gaining back a power base centred on the Great Lakes, while also providing for those Loyalists who were genuine war refugees.
Many had been tortured by their former compatriots in the United States and driven out of the country. The first generation of Loyalists was treated well by the government, which bore the entire cost of surveying and granting the lands.
III. THE FIRST SILVERTHORNS ARRIVE IN ETOBICOKE
One person who had suffered for his loyalty to the Crown was Thomas Silverthorn (1715 - 1788) of New Jersey, who had been heavily fined, imprisoned and put in irons. In 1786, Thomas and his wife, Johanna Newman and some of their children set out for Upper Canada (then called the British colony of Quebec.) They settled initially in Lundy's Lane on the shore of Lake Ontario near Niagara Falls.
Back then, the journey took six weeks at a rate of about seven miles a day.
Niagara was a logical destination since it was a major centre and later became the capital of Upper Canada. In 1802, Thomas' land grants of 600 acres in Niagara came through, four years after his death. Joanna received her late husband's land posthumously.
One of Thomas' sons, John, received 200 acres, also in Niagara. John's own son, Joseph, at the age of 20 years also received a land grant. But Joseph's grant of 1806 was of greatest significance to Marklanders, because it was not in Niagara. It was in Toronto Township (now the Region of Peel). The location was Lot 11, North, on Dundas Street.
This appears to be the event that began pulling 45 year old John Silverthorn to the area that would become Markland Wood. Within 10 months of his son Joseph receiving his land, John made his first trip to the Etobicoke area. This was on April 18, 1807.
John was accompanying Joseph, who had married Jane Chisholm (age 16) and their black maid, Dinah Green. The major luggage was Jane's trousseau trunk (they had been married only one month) and two cows.
Imagine, if you will, the situation. The entire population of Etobicoke as of 1805 was determined to be 40. In 1813, the population of York, now Toronto, was 800. They were leaving Niagara for a strange place across a large cold body of water. The following extract from "The Silverthorns - Ten Generations in America" by Kathleen A. Hicks, gives some indication of the perils of travel in 1807:
"The day was cold and blustery with a tremendous wind whipping at the sails as the ship headed out onto Lake Ontario. The captain set his destination for the Etobicoke Creek, but the easterly wind threw him off course and two and a half hours later they ended up outside little York (New Toronto). It must have been a frightening experience for the Silverthorn party. The port had a dangerous accumulation of ice that damaged the boat as it edged in to the dock.
"They spent the night in a tavern owned by Dr. Thomas Stoyles.
The next day they transferred their supplies into a smaller vessel and resumed their journey. Again, a storm came up, forcing them to moor the boat at the mouth of the Humber River.
"They went ashore to find shelter in the government shipyards (built around 1793). The following day greeted them with better weather, and they headed out again to reach Etobicoke Creek without further delay.
"The group disembarked at the Dundas Road crossing. Joseph and Jane, with Dinah, headed west towards Lot 11. John bade them goodbye and set out east in order to look over some property on the Etobicoke banks for himself. He met settlers along the roadside, made inquiries about the area. Satisfied, he borrowed a horse and made the 70 mile trip back home to Niagara."
From this extract, it appears John himself was being drawn to the Etobicoke area. For one thing, it probably felt safer from American invasion than Niagara. John later made a number of return trips and on January 28, 1808 purchased lot 6, South Dundas Street. In 1809, he purchased Lot 4, South Dundas Street.
IV. THE MILL FARM
John's next purchase is of greatest interest to Marklanders. He purchased Lot G, west half and Lot H, totalling some 400 acres of rich soil on the north side of Dundas, east of Etobicoke Creek - the future Markland Wood community.
The land cost 200 pounds and his lots plus his property in Niagara.
In the spring of 1810, John Silverthorn and his wife Esther, John's mother Johanna and nine children moved to their new home, which would soon become known as the Mill Farm.
They built a 16x22 foot cabin with two rooms: a kitchen-living area and an adjoining bedroom with a loft for the boys to sleep in. Some of the pines felled in the clearing of the land measured 200 feet in height.
In 1811, John and his son Aaron began construction of a saw and grist mill on the banks of the Etobicoke Creek just north of Dundas. They used stones gathered while clearing the land.
The mill operated day and night all year round. It was large enough to cut 10,000 feet of lumber a day. The grist mill could handle 200 barrels of wheat daily. The Silverthorn family saw to the building of Mill Road to facilitate shipments to and from Dundas Street and Burnhamthorpe Road.
Naturally, a milldam had to be built and a pond created to get the water to back up to a good height and create the fall needed to turn the water wheel. Soon after this happened, people upstream in Brampton noticed the salmon and suckers were having difficulty reaching the headwaters to spawn.
But there were trees to be converted to lumber and roads to be built; mills were a necessity for both. John's grandson, Francis, was also in the lumber mill business. In the 1840's, his saw mill and grist mill were by the Credit River at Meadowvale. For the construction of a plank road from Meadowvale to Port Credit, he supplied clear pine, eighteen feet long and three inches thick at four dollars and fifty cents per thousand.
Naturally, a small community began to grow, based on the location of the mill and its proximity to Dundas Street. In early days, the area was known as the district of Silverthorn. Later it became the Village of Summerville. By 1881 the population had reached 250; today there is no sign in that area that Summerville ever existed.
In 1846, John Silverthorn passed on, leaving the Mill Farm to Aaron. In addition to working at his father's side at the mill, Aaron had an active military career. When the war of 1812 broke out, he was 22 years old and fought in the battles at Queenston Heights and Lundy’s Lane. He remained a military man until 1823, when he became classed as a farmer. He had considerable talents, becoming a Justice of the Peace by 1850 and accumulating a lot of property over the years.
However, the grist mill was a different story. The price of wheat plummeted suddenly in 1856 when the Crimean War ended abruptly and the demand for wheat fell. He had to shut the mill down after more than 50 years of operation and turn to full time farming. In 1870, the mill building was levelled and the stones used to build barns.
V. NEWMAN SILVERTHORN – ADVENTURER, INVENTOR, NATURE LOVER
Aaron Silverthorn had three children who survived to adulthood. The youngest was Newman, born March 22, 1829.
At age 20 he began his travels throughout the United States, working as a millwright in Tennessee, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin. As a result of patenting three inventions (copper toed shoes, a stove, and a pig scraping machine) he became a wealthy man. Money was sent home to his mother with instructions to buy farmland near the Mill Farm.
News of his prosperity spread back to Canada. Father Aaron was often petitioned by men claiming to be his son and looking for the money he had been sending back home. One in particular, who had really fooled the family, stayed around the farm for two years. Aaron eventually became suspicious of all strangers.
So it was no wonder when the real Newman arrived home after 20 years, in 1869, that his first conversation with father Aaron was a difficult one.
Newman started up his father’s lane with his wife and two children and found his 79 year old father up on the roof repairing the shingles. According to the family history, the conversation went something like this;
Newman: “Father, I’m home!”
Aaron: “You’re not my son. Go away!”
Newman: “You don’t seem to remember me.”
Aaron: “You may or may not be my son, but you sure have caused me a lot of trouble.”
Newman persisted, answering questions as his father demanded information that would prove Newman’s claim. Eventually Aaron came down from the roof for an ecstatic reunion.
After his return to Canada, Newman bought land on the south side of Dundas. His third child, Charles, was born in 1872. Later that same year, Aaron passed on at age 82, leaving the Mill Farm to Newman. This brought Newman’s land holdings to 1,000 acres. (Think of it as two and a half Markland Wood's in size.)
Newman’s love of the farms and woods was well known. His grandson Gideon remembered:
“That forest was never touched. My grandfather was very particular about touching any forest or the animals. In fact, the only thing I ever saw him do was take a bunch of pigs up to the bush. When we started out, I said to him, ‘Aren’t you going to take some food for them?’ He said ‘Oh no, there’s lots of it there – good big beechnuts.’ He claimed the beechnuts put a nice flavour in the pork.”
Such was Newman’s love of the farm estates that he wanted to pass them along to his heirs in perpetuity. His death in 1918 triggered a will that lawyers have called a classic for its time.
VI. THE NEWMAN SILVERTHORN WILL
The following is an extract from The Silverthorns – Ten Generations in America:
“The terms of Newman’s will were so complex that even today (1996) it hasn’t been settled. He didn’t want his land divided and sold. He wanted to keep it, intact, for future Silverthorns. Land and possessions traditionally went to the eldest son. But Newman’s will was made to prevent disposing of the property and squandering the proceeds of the sale.
“His estate was listed at $750,492 in personal property and $72,275 in real property. By means of intricate legalities, Gideon, his grandson, became the lifetime tenant of the estate, but he was unable to sell or mortgage it without the troublesome task of consulting every member of the family. Newman had figured that this way the family land holdings would be preserved for future generations.
“Some of his grandchildren would inherit the farms in a predetermined succession, gaining a “life interest”. Upon their deaths, the properties would pass on to the next generation under similar conditions. His will reached ahead three generations and included children not yet born.
“His desire to keep his farms intact is reflected in a statement from his will: “…with the right to cut down all dead standing trees thereon and to convert the same and all fallen timber thereon to his own use, but he shall not fell or destroy any live timber thereon except where it may be necessary to open any road or roads on or through the same.”
“But Newman could not foresee the fantastic growth the city of Toronto was to experience after World War II. The farms and woods he was so proud of could no longer be worked profitably because of the high taxes. His son Gideon had the difficult task of working through the courts and heirs to convert the farms into cash investments. It took him 15 years to finally sell off all of the land, which was used for industrial parks, residential development, and the Markland Wood Golf Club.
“At this writing, the Newman Silverthorn estate is still being administered through the courts, with the family now enjoying the “life interest”. The principal is intact and is being held in trust until it is finally dispersed in another generation.
“Newman, who passed away over 75 years ago, left a legacy that affected many lives and still does to this day.”
VII. CHARLES SILVERTHORN – A LIFE CUT SHORT
A sign of the changing times was the arrival of ‘the radials’ – a system of interurban electric railways that began running in the late 1800’s before cars were widespread. These lines connected outlying communities such as Woodbridge, Weston and Brampton to Toronto.
Despite the growing use of cars in the early 20th century, the radials continued to expand for a time. On April 14, 1917 one of the most spectacular interurban lines opened – the Toronto-Guelph interurban. The following describes the leg of the journey that Marklanders should recognize:
“Leaving Dundas Street at the top of the hill on the east side of the Humber River, the line cut through Lambton Park on its own private right-of-way, sped across the Humber on a 25 metre high bridge, paralleled the CPR line to Montgomery Road, crossed Mimico Creek on a wooden trestle, passed underneath the CPR tracks, crossed Cordova Avenue and Dundas Street, then hugged the north side of Dundas from Kipling Avenue to Etobicoke Creek.
“Here we leave Dundas for a few minutes, sweep north and west in a great arc along the east bank of the Etobicoke Creek, cross the creek, head back to Dundas Street, and hug its south side as we head towards Cooksville.”
Part of that line remains visible to this day. Golfers at the Markland Wood Golf Club standing on the 12th tee cannot help but notice a large concrete abutment near Etobicoke Creek. It is the remains of the radial bridge.
On Saturday, August 25, the 45 year old Reeve of the Township of Etobicoke, Charles Silverthorn, youngest son of Newman Silverthorn, went out in his car to make arrangements for the threshing of wheat.
He visited Rufus Garbutt, who lived a mile east on Dundas Street, to talk about the task. When he started back home in his used Ford, the trees that lined the Garbutt’s lane and the rise of the ground at the radial car track blocked a driver’s view. Charles didn’t hear the warning whistle of an approaching radial car.
He pushed down on the gas pedal for a burst of speed to take him over the rise leading to the radial line crossing. On a special run from Toronto, the radial car collided with Charles’ car at full speed, hitting his car broadside and killing him instantly.
As cars became more prevalent, so did the number of accidents. The radial line killed 70 people before it was shut down in 1931. As a popular Reeve of the Township, Charles Silverthorn’s funeral was an impressive sight. In the year 1917, a funeral procession of 150 cars must have been a memorable sight indeed.
VIII. THE ENCROACHING CITY
Charles oldest son, Gideon, was only 21 years of age when he had the responsibility of the farm suddenly thrust upon him. There were 1,000 acres of farmland to manage. Much was divided up into individual parcels that were rented out.
As the city grew ever closer, the inevitable problems of nearby farms became acute; higher land values meant higher property taxes. Year-by-year the rental income of the farm properties looked smaller and smaller compared to the tax bills.
After the war, Gideon had a difficult decision to make. He had to approach all his brothers and sisters and their heirs to ask for their signatures in order to start to sell the property.
“It was a slow evolution,” he recalled. “It had to come. You couldn’t hold it back. But it was contrary to what Newman Silverthorn had wanted. He was very conscious of the land and the trees. It took a lot of time to finally sell the property.”
In 1953, Gideon saw gigantic machines move in to widen Brown’s Line into an eight lane thoroughfare. The government had taken over 30 acres of his property to improve the Highway 27 and Dundas intersection.
An innovation – the cloverleaf interchange – was being built at the intersection.
Etobicoke was the first municipality in the Toronto area to establish a master plan that outlined industrial and residential areas. Building permits for 1953 were worth $50 million compared to $1 million in 1945.
Even the weather itself seemed to be contributing to the difficult times. On October 16, 1954, the iron bridge on Mill Road where it crossed Etobicoke Creek on its way to Dundas was washed out by Hurricane Hazel. It was never rebuilt. One way or another, the property was becoming fragmented. The bridge over the creek ran close to the current number 12 tee at the Markland Wood Golf Club.
After being in the family for 148 years, the Mill Farm was sold to Mark Cavotti and Associates in July of 1958. The 400 acres, from Dundas Street to Burnhamthorpe Road that ran along the edge of the Etobicoke Creek, sold for $3,000,000 (or slightly more than $7,000 per acre).
The family explained Newman’s feelings about his 100 acre hardwood forest, and Mr. Cavotti promised to preserve the trees wherever possible.
“I love trees,” he said at the time of the major purchase. “I’ll make sure that we spare every tree we can and see that every house lot has a few on it.”
IX. MARK’S LAND
By September of 1958, news of the sale of the Silverthorn farm was attracting interest in the media. An editorial in the Etobicoke Press of September 25, 1958 reads in part:
“The old Silverthorn family farm, along the east bank of Etobicoke Creek from near Dundas to Burnhamthorpe has been sold for development.
“News of this was probably of special interest to Etobicoke residents last week because the Etobicoke river valley on the west border of the township, is like the Humber River on the east, among the most picturesque and interesting features of our area.
“It was heartening to read the developer’s statement that he has an affection for trees and will try to preserve as many as possible. He’ll actually write into deeds of building lots a covenant requiring purchasers to preserve trees on the land.
“This is smart business on his part and good citizenship as well. One of the repelling aspects of many new subdivisions has been their bareness and lack of even a few small trees. Lots located in a pleasantly treed area must surely bring premium prices.
“A golf course is to be built on part of the Silverthorn property according to the purchaser’s present plans. This is also good news, since we need to promote and encourage preservation of open, greenbelt land by any feasible means.
“While development of the Silverthorn property is under way, it would be a good idea for the Township or the Metro Conservation Authority to consider some sort of historical marker on the property.
“The Silverthorns have throughout Etobicoke’s long municipal history been admirable citizens and public spirited landowners. They have made a very considerable contribution to the township’s growth. This should be recognized by some sort of cairn and plaque at least.”
The following is an account of a conversation with Mark Cavotti and two of his associates;
“I wanted to purchase a piece of land close to Metropolitan Toronto which could be developed into a modern residential community,” said Mr. Cavotti, a real estate developer. “The problem was to find land, which was suitable. My associates and I examined many locations before we heard that the Silverthorn farm was for sale. As soon as I saw it I knew that I wanted it.
“Here was a property, which was ideally situated close to the main arteries leading into the heart of Toronto. What really impressed me about the farm were the abundance of trees and brooks or rivers. When my associates saw the farm they were almost as impressed as I was. We finally decided to buy the farm. My associates, at first, jokingly referred to the land as ‘Mark’s land’ and then, after the purchase was completed, they did me the honour of calling the area “Markland Wood.”
“Each of my associates”, continued Mark Cavotti, “was qualified to contribute his talents and experience to the development of Markland Wood. Mr. Eric Hanson looked after the planning operations and Mr. Reg. Powell took care of the engineering details.”
“Markland Wood,” said Eric Hanson, “presented the type of challenge which every planner dreams of. Here was a parcel of land, bounded on three sides by natural boundaries: on the south and west by the Etobicoke River and on the east by the Renforth Creek.
“In preparing the plans for Markland Wood”, said Reg. Powell, “we felt that we should retain, as far as possible, the topography of the land.”
“After the initial plans were prepared”, said Mark Cavotti, we found that the land adjoining the Etobicoke River and part of the Renforth Creek was below the flood level as established by Hurricane Hazel. We could not build on these low levels. We did feel however that the land could be used on which to build a golf course. We turned this project over to Eric Hanson and he designed an 18 hole championship golf course which promised to be one of the finest in Ontario.
“No subdivision is complete without park facilities where the children can play” added Mark Cavotti. “Instead of allowing for three or four small parks, we set aside ten acres of land west of Mil Road and on Bloor Street for a park, and this land was turned over to the Township of Etobicoke. Our final plans for Markland Wood had the appearance of a village.
A field office was erected at 2 Markland Drive where all work in the area was supervised. A model of the completed project was mounted on the wall for all to see what the subdivision would eventually look like. It was decided to develop the subdivision in stages.
The first stage was the area north of Bloor Street and east of Mill Road. At the same construction began on the golf course. Maisonettes were to be built on the south side of Bloor Street, west of Mill Road.
The shopping centre was to be built on the south-west corner of Bloor and Mill and a service station was to be built on the south-east corner of Bloor and Mill. The area north of Bloor and west of Mill would be developed at a later date. It would be several years before the entire subdivision was completed.
In 1960 the first family to reside in “Markland Wood” moved to 15 Clearside. The Smith family braved the eternal mud of construction on all sides, hiking in muck-laden boots to the closest bus stop (West Mall and Bloor). By 1961, ninety one families lived amid the mud of the emerging Markland Wood. They had paid in the vicinity of $26,000 for a four bedroom house.
X. THE FIRST 25 YEARS OF THE MARKLAND HOMES ASSOCIATION
The Markland Homes Association was formed in October of 1962. In celebration of this milestone, the Marklander of October, 1987 was a special issue. Much of this issue is reproduced below.
October 30th marked the 25th Anniversary of the Markland Homes Association and in commemoration, this “Special Anniversary” issue is presented to you. Your regular November Marklander appears in the back portion of this publication.
Without getting philosophical, it is quite a feat for a neighbourhood of our size to be so organized and concerned for such a long period of time. It has not been accomplished by the Board of Directors alone but by everyone who has lived here. I have had much help from fellow Marklanders both present and former.
I would like to thank everyone who has helped make this Anniversary issue possible. Special thanks should go to the Directors both past and present who I have hounded relentlessly for photographs; Howard Lowe, Bert Taylor, Jim Ringer, Jean Tubby, Norman Wall, Mrs. Jack Cates, Glen Ayers, Michael McFall, Dave Saunders, Mike Wilson, Joan Hart, Stu McNair, Mrs. Tom Gladney, Fletcher Keating, Noreen Wells, Peter Little, Marie Dorey, Owen Menzel, Rick Lunny and Mr. & Mrs. Inglis.
This Marklander was a typical Markland Wood undertaking. It was a community effort, and I, for one, am most appreciative to all who have helped.
Markland Wood and Its Homes Association – Then and Now
Mr. Bert Taylor, the first editor of your Marklander, had the pleasure of calling on Mr. Gideon Silverthorn, one of the remaining descendants, and from him, was able to obtain the information for the first part of this story.
“I farmed the land for many years,” said Mr. Silverthorn. “I built a barn and the barn stood until 1959. I raised a few head of livestock, grew hay and grain for my own use. For a few years I cultivated 20 acres of tomatoes and sold the crop to the Campbell Soup Company. My uncle once felt that we should turn part of the farm into an orchard like our neighbours, the Clarksons, who lived on the west side of the river, but I did not agree. In 1958 we sold the farm to Mr. Mark Cavotti and his associates. I know every foot of the farm and it holds many pleasant memories for me. I am very glad that an effort has been made to retain some of its rustic beauty.”
From 1950 until 1958, the farm was a haven for wildlife, Many species of birds built their nests there and almost every week-end bird watchers came to the area.
(Editor: Some lovers of wildlife tried to block the sale of the farm when they knew it would be used for a housing development).
The early development was not without its issues. Sidewalks were planned to be set eleven feet from the curb for a lush boulevard look. The families soon realized that half of the people could not park their cars in their own driveway without blocking the proposed sidewalks. Under the leadership of Howard Lowe, they met every Thursday evening from November 1961 to May 1962 in the Etobicoke Council Chamber to convince “City Hall” to have the plans changed.
“A referee is useless unless he can form an opinion on what he sees”, explained Howard Lowe to Council. “So come out and see our driveways and we will abide by your decision.”
Ninety of the ninety-one families signed the petition to shorten the boulevard.
“Markland Wins Struggle – Breaks Etobicoke Standards,” announced the Advertiser-Guardian, May 24, 1962 in red headlines across the front page. Photographed below were residents Howard Lowe and Bert Taylor with councillors Macdonald, Pyne and Gilbert staking out the new sidewalks closer to the curb’s edge.
The tightly-knit Marklanders developed a tremendous spirit of playing cards, forming a bowling league and holding regular parties. “We enjoyed each other’s company so much” said Howard Lowe to past editor Marie Dorey in 1982, “that we formed the Markland Homes Association in October 1962 with the motto “to create, foster and maintain a community spirit”.
George Owen, a barrister, volunteered his services to “prepare the Constitution” because he wanted to do something for the community. He again volunteered his services when the Executive felt the need to obtain a Provincial Charter.
It was natural that the people should name Howard Lowe as the first president of the Markland Homes Association and he continued as president through 1964. He assisted Dr. S. A. Khan in organizing The West Side Youth Club which held Saturday night dances at the West Mall Skating Rink. He assisted Jean Tubby in coordinating the first of a string of annual high profile fashion shows in 1964. “I don’t think there was a female over twelve years old in Markland Wood who was not involved,” claimed Howard.
In 1963, the Marklander was born. It consisted of a single folded sheet with an occasional insert. Bert Taylor was its first editor and it was printed on a ditto machine by former director Jim Ringer. It cost 50 cents to deliver them to all of the residents.
The sixties era of the Homes Association continued on with the start of many things. Some remain to this day; others have for one reason or another dropped off to the wayside.
It saw the start of the Christmas Lighting Contests, where the home and street with the best outside Christmas decorations would win a prize donated by Etobicoke Hydro, and the annual Fireworks Display. An ice rink was provided at the corner of Bloor and Mill Rd. (now a gas station) and maintained by the residents of Markland Wood. ( In the 1970’s the newly installed tennis courts would be frozen over and again maintained by residents). Baseball teams were organized for boys and girls and an improved TTC bus route began.
It was the start of the Annual Spring Dances as well as the Golf Tournament and Dinner Dance. This, however, was not quite the same as it is today. Women were not allowed to golf. It was for gentlemen only and it was not a golf tournament. It was merely a social get together. A buffet dinner followed and the wives were allowed to attend. The cost was $5.00 to golf with a $5.00 per person charge for dinner.
“Meet the Candidates Nights” were held. We took part in S.A.N.A. (Society for Aircraft Noise Abatement). The roads in Phase 4 were paved and in 1969 the Markland Homes Association consisted of 900 members – the largest in its history to date. The Marklander took on a new look. It was now similar in size to what it is today.
The 1970’s were very busy times for us. With them came the installation of:
- traffic lights at Mill Road and Bloor Street (and at Bloor and Markland Drive.)
- three courtesy benches at the bus stops (provided by the MHA)
- tennis courts at Silverthorn Collegiate and at Millwood Park
- new lighting in the wooded area behind Millwood School
- crosswalks at Markland and Bloor
- the presentation of “A Roman Night” - a play put on by Marklanders and held at the Golf Club
- the first scholarships to area schools
- hockey and lacrosse teams
- The Etobicoke Day Festival
- the Federal Government’s proposal to build a new airport at Pickering
- the investigation of a new garbage disposal plant in our borough
- the continuation of the Humber Highlands Curling Club (of which many Marklanders were members)
In the 1970’s we also:
- saw the first Markland Wood's” sign (1971) at the plaza
- had the City repair the sidewalks that collapsed on Silverthorn Bush and across Millwood due to the installation of storm sewers
-organized and ran (along with Mr. Young, the principal) the Annual Commencement at Silverthorn Collegiate during the ‘work to rule’ strike of Etobicoke teachers.
- provided the adult supervision for social functions and assisted, through advertising, in finding leaders for particular specialty groups at the school
- had the crosswalks at Toledo and Mill Road relocated to accommodate Millwood School
- had a ‘No Stopping’ zone created to cover the full frontage of the Golf Club property at the clubhouse
- held the first Markland Wood Tennis Tournament
- saw our last Spring Dance
- participated in ‘Operation Checkmate’
- resolved the problem regarding the possible change in name of Stoneglen
- took part in the Etobicoke Traffic Committee
- were instrumental in having an all night bus route initiated to provide maximum benefit to Marklanders with little or no inconvenience
- helped the President of the Silverthorn Student Council to organize a Public Meeting to outline the student-organized teaching program and to enlist part-time teachers during the teacher’s strike (many of whom were Marklanders)
- got the Etobicoke Municipal Department to clean up the creek and bridge between Thicket Road and the Burnhamthorpe Plaza
Last, but certainly not least, we began our “Christmas Caravan” with Norman Wall as our first Santa Claus.
With the 1980’s came the McDonald’s issue. Although we lost the fight to have one built in our community, we were able to have it designed according to our wishes; we “Street-Proofed” our children; instituted a Neighbourhood Watch (and were studied as a model for other communities); sponsored a hockey team, a girl’s all-star baseball team and the Bloordale Baseball League for a Wintario grant.
We objected to and defeated the proposed Provincial electoral boundaries split which would have divided Markland Wood in two: worked to keep Silverthorn Collegiate open; held poster contests in area schools; sponsored the first Master’s Games; gave money to both St. Clement’s and Millwood Schools for their playground equipment and strongly supported the Separate School residents of Markland Wood in their fight to separate student registrations between Bloor Street north and south. As a result of this action, the students were given the option.
We dealt with the ongoing problems of traffic on Markland Drive, and are still awaiting responses from the City regarding our recommendations as well as the problems related to the airplanes flying over our area.
We spoke to City Officials and Planners involved in the development of Centennial Park and extension of Mill Road to Eglinton regarding the possible traffic impact it could have on our community and we represented Marklanders along with the Bloordale Baseball League in urging Parks and Recreation to do something to prevent foul balls in Millwood Park from landing in the middle of Bloor Street with children in pursuit.
In retrospect, our “All Candidates Nights” are a credit to the community spirit and the sense of public responsibility in Markland. Through this and many other activities, we have earned the respect and admiration of the City politicians with whom we enjoy working toward common goals.
The Christmas Caravan has become an annual event with which the community identifies itself. It expresses our concern for other less fortunate citizens. We have an increased liaison with the police. We extend our thanks to them for their prompt attention to our problems and the assistance they have given us.
We have kept our roads and parks safe and in good condition by bringing such matters to the attention of the City. We have kept a close eye on actions by Federal, Provincial and Municipal governments that could have an impact on Markland Wood and have opposed most projects associated with an increase in taxes.
We have also kept a close liaison with the Boards of Education and the Etobicoke Hydro Commission. In addition, we have increased our scholarships to area schools.
We have come a long way since 1962. Markland Wood has matured as a neighbourhood with the problems of development behind us. Unlike some Homeowner Associations, however, we have not lost our momentum as we grow older.
We are as strong and active today as we were 25 years ago. We have a history of dedicated and involved directors, the Marklander which has kept everyone informed and residents who are proud of their community and committed to maintaining it as a wonderful place to live.
It has often been expressed by Mayors, City Executives and Federal Representatives that we are one of the most active and well-organized Citizens’ Committees in Etobicoke.
We have had many successes and, of course, some disappointments. The challenges and objectives of the future remain to be seen but, as in the past, they will be dealt with as they arise.
The future of the Markland Wood community is as bright as has been its past developing years.
We as an association are strong. We are concerned. “To create, foster and maintain a community spirit” is not simply words. They are what has made Markland Wood what it is today and what it will be tomorrow.
This history has relied heavily on the following publications:
- The Silverthorns: Ten Generations in America by Kathleen Hicks
- Riding the Radials: Toronto’s Suburban Electric Railway Cars by Robert M. Stamp
- Greening Our Watersheds: Revitalization Strategies for Etobicoke and Mimico Creeks by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority
- The Etobicoke Press: Selected Articles from 1958 to 1969