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Lorne Park

Lorne Park
By Zofia Krivdova

Today the pioneer crossroads village of Lorne Park is scarcely visible. The community, to from outside the area, is not readily definable. Old landmarks, such as the public school, community hall, and several churches have been replaced with newer buildings, and many of the older homes and properties have also given way to modern developments. Residents today have scarce reminders of the largely rural and agricultural past of Lorne Park.

The village of Lorne Park originated as something quite different from the well-known 30 hectare resort area that was established in 1879 along the south side of Lakeshore Road. This seasonal resort area, known today as Lorne Park Estates, and the farming village located on the north side of Lakeshore Road along Lorne Park Road, were both named after the Marquis de Lorne, Governor General of Canada from 1878 to 1883.

The village officially received its name when the first Post Office opened in 1892, although informally the area was a loosely knit community that shared many services with nearby villages of Port Credit, Erindale, Sheridan and Clarkson. Despite being surrounded by more prominent villages, Lorne Park developed an independent character of its own, although somewhat overshadowed by the nearby wealthy resort area of the same name.

The village of Lorne Park is located roughly on what was Lots 22 to 26, Concessions 2 and 3, south of Dundas Street. Land in this area was granted originally to Jacob Thomas (c.1809), Joseph Cawthra (c.1811), Christian Hendershott (c.1808) and John Steel (c.1810). 

Joseph Cawthra’s son, William, inherited his father’s land in the Lorne Park area in 1842. He sold his property to George McGill in 1851. George and his wife, Elizabeth Bishop, built a house and barn in the bottom section of the farm, and called it “Glen Leven”. George died in 1861 and his sons, Henry and James, inherited the property. Henry kept the lower half while James received the upper section. James, together with his wife, Eliza Catherine Evans, lived along the logging trail which later became Lorne Park Road. When Henry died in 1893, his property was sold to James MacKerrow, who in turn sold several acres to John Peer in 1898. Peer turned the old house into the Glen Leven Hotel. It was not very successful and Lachlan Hamilton purchased the Glen Leven Hotel in 1902, and lived in the hotel with his wife, Constance. The old hotel burned in 1936.

The Great Western Railway began its construction in 1853 and was completed in 1855. It cut the southern part of the Lorne Park area into two parts, and several small bridges were built across tracks and the glen.  Later, a larger bridge was built so that the old-style locomotives with their smokestacks could pass beneath.  The line of the Second Range was a rough trail locally known as “Kelly’s Road”, which led only as far as the farm of the Kelly family. Kelly’s Road, now known as Indian Road, was extended in 1917.

Albert Shaver opened the Lorne Park Supply Store in 1892 at the corner of Lorne Park Road and Lakeshore Road, across from the Lorne Park Estates gates. It offered groceries, fruits, teas and coffee, dry goods, boots, shoes and rubbers. In 1902, the O’Haras took over the Shaver store and ran a general store that sold groceries, gas and coal oil for the lamps.

Another early settling family was the Albertsons. James Albertson and his wife, Emmira Leach, first settled in Lorne Park around 1892. James called his new farm “Lorne Park Farm”.  By 1895, the farm was selling potatoes, beans, corn and strawberries. In 1904 James Albertson died, and his wife continued to run the farm with the help of her children. Ernest Albertson built the Albertonia Hotel, and his brother Clarence built a general store, which was later owned by the Weaver Brothers.

Lorne Park’s post office opened on July 1st, 1892, in Albert Shaver’s store with George Perry as the first postmaster. When the Lorne Park Post Office was closed in 1889, Arthur Shaver erected a new frame building on his own property, and this small wooden building became the new Post Office.  It opened on October 1st, 1900, and Shaver became the new postmaster. When he resigned in 1914, Clarence Albertson opened a post office in his new store near the Lore Park Road railway crossing.  He was Postmaster until his resignation in 1917, when Edward de Wayne Almas took over the postal duties.  Mr. Almas held the position until 1930. In 1930, Alfred Weaver Sr., who had worked as an assistant for Mr. Almas, became the Postmaster. He resigned in 1948 and his son, Alfred Weaver Jr., continued to operate the Post office in the same store. In 1953, a new Lorne Park Post Office building was opened in the Lorne Park Shopping Centre.

One of the most well-known people in Lorne Park was Orange Edwin Burns.  His parents were Andrew Burns and Margaret McGill. Orange Burns was born in 1895. He received a Lot from his father next to the Power line and settled there with his wife, Alice Lemon. They had five children; Eveline, Laura, Raymond, George and Toby. Orange was a hard worker and was always willing to help.  He rented the Power Line in front of his house and put in a large patch of raspberries, as well as potatoes, rhubarb and carrots. Orange was well known throughout the community for his stories of yesteryear and his strong personality.

Another early member of the Lorne Park community was Wesley Peer. Wesley helped to build the Lorne Park Mission Hall in 1902, after David Shook was instrumental in raising funds for the building. The first library in the village was organized by Robert Taylor in 1903; he gathered donations and purchased books.  The inaugural meeting for the Clarkson-Lorne Park Women’s Institute was held in May of 1913, at the Lorne Park Mission Hall. During World War I, the Women’s Institute did as much as possible to help the war effort.

The first church of Anglican denomination was organized in 1906, holding services in the Lorne Park Mission Hall with Reverend Thompson. In 1914, St. Paul’s Anglican Church was built on Lachlan Hamilton’s property. It burned down on February 6th, 1915, and a new church was built at 1190 Lorne Park Road that still stands today. The first Baptist services were started in May of 1919 in the Lorne Park Mission, by the Reverend Williamson. The following year, another meeting was needed and the members asked for permission to build a small building on property located on Indian Road next to the power line.

By the 1920’s the former Mission Hall became the Community Hall, which became a true community gathering place. Many clubs and societies of all kinds held dances, concerts, parties and meetings there.  The good times in the Community Hall came to an end when the maintenance costs of the building became so high that the Community Club could no longer afford to pay them.  At that time the Hall was transferred to the Toronto Township Recreation Commission. After the new Lorne Park Secondary School was erected, however, there was a need for a large parking lot. The old Community Hall was torn down to provide the land.

In the early years of Lorne Park the nearest schools were at Erindale (S.S. #4), near Sheridan (S.S. #5), and at Clarkson (S.S. #6). The village of Lorne Park did not have a school of its own in the early years, and children had to walk long distances to get to school. It was not until 1923 that Lorne Park finally received a formal school of its own (S.S. #22), thanks in part to lobbying by Constance Hamilton. The Lorne Park Public School was built on two acres of Robert Taylor’s property on Indian Road.

One of Lorne Park’s most recognized landmarks is the “Denison House”, also known as the “Tower House”.  Herbert W. Denison was born in his father’s house on Lorne Park Road and was described by the census of 1891 as a carpenter. He bought a house from his mother-in-law, Eliza McGill, in 1890, and worked hard to enlarge and improve it. He moved the tower part from another house and attached it to the log cabin where he lived with his wife Annie Denison and their seven children. The house was sold to Annie’s sister and brother-in-law, Mary and Bert Denison, after their oldest son Ernest drowned, and Annie could not bear to live in the house anymore. Mary and Bert moved in with their children and the house remained in the family. Herbert and Annie Denison moved to Port Credit. In 1919, the “Tower House” was bought by Herbert’s sister, Mary Jane, and her husband, Richard Luker. They lived there for many years.  By 1937, their son, Arthur, who inherited the house from his mother, built a new red brick house behind his Lorne Park Garage and Service Station. The “house with the tower” stayed in the family until 1940, when it was sold to the Tedder family.

Many more rich stories of Lorne Park survive, helping to ensure that the legacy of this “lost village” will be passed on to future generations, such as the tales of Nelson “Digger” Patchett, or of the Lockerby Poultry Farm, or of the Madigan Family, for whom Madigan Lane was named. Perhaps Lorne Park is not truly a “lost village”, as there still remain landmarks scattered along Lorne Park’s roads that recall a bygone era, and there is much recorded history on the early years of the community. Also, there is a collective memory with the names of the families that helped to shape the village, including Denison, Henderson, Hamilton, Kelly, Leach, Madigan, McGill, O’Hara, Oliphant, Patchett and Shaver, amongst many, many more.

© Mississauga Heritage 2009