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Long Branch
—  Neighbourhood  —
Ukrainian Orthodox Church on Lake Shore Blvd. West
Location of Long Branch within Toronto
Coordinates: 43°35′29″N 79°31′57″W / 43.59139°N 79.5325°W / 43.59139; -79.5325
Country  Canada
Province  Ontario
City Toronto Toronto
Community Etobicoke-York
Established 1884 planned (Subdivision) 'Sea Breeze Park'
1891 (Postal village)
Incorporated 1930 (Village)
Changed Municipality 1954 Flag of Metropolitan Toronto.svg Metropolitan Toronto from York County
1998 Toronto from Etobicoke
Annexed 1967 into Etobicoke
Government
 - MP Michael Ignatieff (Etobicoke-Lakeshore)
 - MPP Laurel Broten (Etobicoke-Lakeshore)
 - Councillor Mark Grimes (Ward 6 Etobicoke-Lakeshore)

The former Village of Long Branch is a neighbourhood in the south-west of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is located in the south-west corner of the former Township (and later, City) of Etobicoke and was a partially-independent municipality from 1930-1967. It was the last of the former 'Lakeshore Municipalities'.

Long Branch is bounded by Lake Ontario on the south, with western boundaries of Etobicoke Creek north of Lake Shore Blvd. West and the property line of the Canadian Arsenals Ltd. south of Lake Shore Road, the Canadian National Railway's mainline to the north, and eastern boundaries being Twenty-Third Street south of Lake Shore Blvd. West, and the mid-point between Twenty-Second and Twenty-Fourth Streets north of Lake Shore Blvd. West.

.

Original cottage on the waterfront in Long Branch

Contents

History

Before Long Branch became a village, it was the home to Loyalist Col. Sam Smith, one of the first settlers in Etobicoke in the late 1700s, whose early cabin survived into the 1950s[1]. Col. Smith's tract of land extended from what is now Kipling Avenue to the original course of the Etobicoke River (now Creek), south of Bloor Street to Lake Ontario. The southern portion of this tract would include all of Long Branch and the westernmost portion of New Toronto, south of the railway line.

Sea Breeze Park & Long Branch Park

The property was bought by the Eastwood family from Col Sam Smith's son, Samuel Bois Smith in 1871. In 1883 James Eastwood sold a portion of his land south of Lake Shore Road (now, Boulevard West). It was to be developed as a summer resort called 'Sea Breeze Park', and a plan of subdivision was filed in 1884. With new owners, it was renamed 'Long Branch Park' in 1886 after the summer resort area of Long Branch, New Jersey. The central north-south street was originally 'Sea Breeze Avenue', but was renamed 'Long Branch Avenue'. [2].

The 'Long Branch Hotel' was set back from the waterfront near Beach Road (now Lake Promenade) and Long Branch Avenue in 1887.

In 1891 the Long Branch post office was opened and in 1895 the Toronto & Mimico Electric Railway and Light Company radial railway's single-track interurban service was built along Lake Shore Road through Long Branch to the Long Branch Loop[3]. In 1927, this line was amalgamated by the Toronto Transit Commission which at first operated it as a part of the Queen line, later building a loop at Humber Bay where the lines were separated; the streetcar line along Lake Shore Road became the 507 Long Branch route.

Around 1910 other lots south of Lake Shore Road around Long Branch Park began to be subdivided. The original north-south streets in Long Branch had names: Lansdowne Avenue (now 33rd Street, a street in Toronto already had that name) and Lake View Avenue (now 35th Street), Long Branch Avenue is still named (it would be 34th Street otherwise)[4]. In 1931 north-south street names were standardized by continuing the ordinal numbers given to New Toronto streets, picking-up at Twenty-Third Street in the east (bordering the former Mimico Asylum) through to Forty-Third Street in the west.

Incorporation & Challenges
Official Opening of the Streetcar on Lake Shore, 1928

Long Branch was incorporated as a Village in 1930, shortly after the other Lake Shore municipalities, Mimico and New Toronto, were incorporated as Towns. A cenotaph was raised on Long Branch Avenue south of Lake Shore in 1933 to commemorate the village's contribution during the First (and later, Second) World War[5]. During the Second World War many industries were opened between Lake Shore Road and the railway to the north as part of the war effort.

In 1954, more than forty homes in Long Branch were lost at the mouth of the Etobicoke Creek by Hurricane Hazel. Long Branch's dead from the Hurricane were:[6]

  • Mr & Mrs Ed. Crymble, Mrs Robert Johnston, Clifford, Patricia & Robert Thorpe

To prevent any future floods from having similar disastrous results, houses from around the mouth of the creek were relocated, and the area turned into a park. In 1959, the park was named for Long Branch Reeve Marie Curtis in recognition for her efforts to have it built[7]. The Long Branch Park Hotel was destroyed by fire in 1958[1].


Adjacent to Marie Curtis Park West is the former site of the Small Arms Limited factory. The Ordnance Branch of the Department of National Defense authorized the construction of the factory in 1940. After transfer to the Department of Munitions and Supply, a Crown Corporation, Small Arms Ltd. was formed to operate the facility. By June 1941, the first five rifles had been produced. Huge quantities of British-pattern military small arms were manufactured there during the Second World War, including such weapons as the Bren light machine-gun, the Sten submachine-gun or machine-carbine, and the Short-magazine Lee-Enfield bolt-action rifle.

Small Arms Ltd. ceased operations at the end of December 1945. Beginning January 1, 1946, operations continued as the Small Arms Division, Canadian Arsenals Limited. The factory was closed June 30, 1976.

There are plans to incorporate the former grounds into the Marie Curtis Park West park extension. It must be noted that Marie Curtis Park West is located in Toronto, while the 'Arsenal Lands' are in Mississauga, Peel Region.

Modern Transition

During the post war years, Long Branch became home to many immigrant Canadians from Eastern Europe; one of the largest Orthodox churches in Canada, St Demetrius Ukrainian Orthodox Church (not to be confused with St Demetrius Byzantine Rite Catholic church, also in Etobicoke), was built on Lake Shore Blvd West near Long Branch Ave in 1958[8]. During Long Branch's last years as a village, many immigrants moved to the area and many low-rise apartments were built to house the growing population.

In 1967, the Village of Long Branch along with the Towns of New Toronto and Mimico were amalgamated with the Township of Etobicoke to form the Borough of Etobicoke. The Borough became the City of Etobicoke in 1984. In 1998, Etobicoke was merged with five other municipalities and the Metropolitan Toronto government to form the new City of Toronto.

Although Long Branch had started as a summer resort, the area today is increasingly centred along Lake Shore Boulevard West. It was originally developed as a commercial strip in the 1930s, with an industrial section added during WWII. Lake Shore Boulevard West today is a major artery and business strip in transition, with plans, some controversial, to ease its transformation from a low density industrial corridor to a commercial centre mixed with medium density residential blocks .

Notable residents

Long Branch Loop in 1935
Reeves
  • Marie Curtis (1954-1962)
  • Leonard E. Ford (1963-1964)
  • Thomas Berry (1965-1966)
Other

Institutions

A shot looking west of TTC's Long Branch Loop looking west in late 2007.
  • Long Branch Park Hotel (demolished)
  • Long Branch Library
  • Long Branch Centennial Arena
  • Long Branch Streetcar Loop
Churches
  • Long Branch Baptist Church
  • St Agnes Anglican Church (founded 1924, closed 2005, building remains)[9]
  • St Paul's United Church (founded 1924)
  • St James Presbyterian (founded 1914, closed 2001)
  • Christ the King Roman Catholic Church
  • St. Demetrius Ukrainian Orthodox Church
  • Polish Full Gospel Church[10]
Schools

See also

References

External links

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