Mount Pleasant Road: A Short History
While Yonge and Bayview serve as the north/south running perimeters of the Davisville neighbourhood, Mount Pleasant Road runs right through the middle of the area and has its own unique history.
Before Mount Pleasant Road came Mount Pleasant Cemetery. In 1873, a 200-acre farm east of Yonge Street and north of the small community of Deer Park was purchased for $20,000. Named Mount Pleasant Cemetery, it officially opened to the public in 1876, and its innovative 'landscape style’ design and 19km of winding roadways made it an attraction in its own right.
Parts of the road date back to the 1890s, but it wasn’t until 1917 that permission was granted for the road to be developed and cut through Mount Pleasant Cemetery. It ran from Bloor to the ‘northern city limits’ (now Lawrence Ave). Piecing together some smaller existing streets gave it the winding path that it currently has.
For many years Stark’s Texaco gas station stood on the corner where the Esso currently is. Across the street stood two other service stations (see picture below). Check out this Blog TO post featuring typical gas stations throughout the decades.
In Mike Filey’s Toronto Sketches 9: The Way We Were, Filey recalls: “What I remember most about the days when I worked - played - in Harry’s station was the number of other gas stations along Mount Pleasant Road. Starting at Merton Street, I can remember a Sunoco and Texaco on the northwest and northeast corners respectively, a BA at the southwest corner of Davisville, Harry’s BP at the southwest corner of Belsize, McConnell’s Texaco station on the west side north of Soudan, another BA at the northeast corner of Mount Pleasant and Eglinton…Nearly a dozen gas stations in a 13-block stretch.”
Today, the former McCool-Frontenac, then Texaco is now the Esso pictured to the left, the only one left of the 13.
According to the Toronto Star, “Mount Pleasant is a quirky — but pleasant — throwback to a different era”:
“For a retail strip in a rather upwardly mobile neighbourhood, the lack of chain domination is a bit of a throwback, too; wandering along here feels like a period piece or mid-century movie set.”
“From the mid-1920s until 1976, Mount Pleasant had a streetcar that ran from the St. Clair subway station, but it was removed when the bridge over what was the former Belt Line Railway cut, now a recreational path, had to be rebuilt at the northern edge of cemetery. Today, that bridge allows mourners as well as joggers and cyclists on the Belt Line Trail to pass between the east and west halves of the cemetery underneath Mount Pleasant traffic.”
“At its height, there was even night streetcar service here and that, along with the streetcar itself, explains why this stretch is rich with storefront retail, handsome pre-war walk-up apartments on adjacent streets, and two fine old movie houses, the Regent and the Mount Pleasant.”
Across the street at Mount Pleasant and Merton stood the distinctive Dominion Coal and Wood Silos, build in 1928. Dominion Coal was the last commercial organization to use the Beltline railroad tracks.
The silos were built in 1930 for $100,000 and demolished in 2001. They stood 80 feet tall.
When the plan was announced for the silos to come down to make way for condos, controversy followed as outlined in this Globe and Mail article from 2000.