Glenfern History

Glenfern Avenue is located in Toronto’s Balmy Beach neighbourhood. It was first surveyed in the 1790’s as part of Lots 1 and 2 in York Township. In 1847 prominent Toronto merchant and former mayor George Monro purchased 25 acres and established Painted Post Farm. A parcel of land was later leased out by the Monro family following the ex-Mayor's death and turned into Munro Park, an amusement park that existed from 1896 to 1906.

By 1853 Adam Wilson, a lawyer, politician and distinguished judge, held part of Lots 1 and 2. Glenfern is located on the lake front of what was once part of Wilson's county estate.
In 1876, Adam Wilson subdivided his property and laid out Balsam, Beech, Silver Birch, Pine and Maple Avenues. He also set aside a private promenade at the south end of Beech “for the common use and enjoyment of lot owners.” Victoria Park opened in 1878 and excursion steamers made several trips a day there from pickup points in downtown Toronto.

In 1887 three developers, Robert J. Fleming, W.H. Banks and F.J. Philpott, further subdivided the area and laid out Balmy and Glenfern Avenues. In 1899 Allan McLean Howard advertised building lots for sale at Balmy Beach, "the most beautiful annex of Toronto, and the coming suburban residential part of the city." By the turn of the century, the Beach area was enjoying great popularity and remarkable growth.

A 1903 act by the East Toronto Council created Balmy Beach Park on the site of Adam Wilson's private promenade. Town. The park opened in June 1904 and included bowling greens, lawn tennis courts, and "a splendid boathouse, combining recreation rooms and all the modern facilities."

On 12 Sept. 1925, at the end of its nineteenth season, Scarboro Beach Amusement Park, (bounded by the lake, Queen, Leuty, and MacLean) closed for the last time and Toronto's Board of Control approved buying the 2.875 acres for development. The Telegram soon advertised "attractive but moderately priced homes . . . for $5,400 to $7,500." Around that time Addison Johnston, a local builder and entrepreneur, redeveloped Lot 1 at Silver Birch and Lake Front. After clearing old summer cottages, he not only built four homes for himself and his extended family, but also the small apartment house which is now 15-21 Glenfern.


Photo of Munro Park

Photo of George Munro Photo of Adam Wilson

Photo of Balmy Beach Club

Photo of Addison Johnston Photo of Lakefront

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