Mount Pleasant Road: A Short History

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.

Image from Google Maps

Image from Google Maps

Photo: Davisville Post, 2019

Photo: Davisville Post, 2019

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.

1916 - Mount Pleasant looking south to Merton Photo c/o  Chuckman Toronto Nostalgia

1916 - Mount Pleasant looking south to Merton
Photo c/o Chuckman Toronto Nostalgia

View of Mount Pleasant Road under construction, looking north from Bloor St. E., 1946 Image c/o Toronto Public Library Archives

View of Mount Pleasant Road under construction, looking north from Bloor St. E., 1946
Image c/o Toronto Public Library Archives

Mount Pleasant and Merton, northwest corner Davisville Post 2019

Mount Pleasant and Merton, northwest corner
Davisville Post 2019

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.”

View of Mount Pleasant and Merton from above - here you can see three different gas stations (two on the west side and one on the east) Photo from  Chuckman Toronto Nostalgia

View of Mount Pleasant and Merton from above - here you can see three different gas stations (two on the west side and one on the east)
Photo from Chuckman Toronto Nostalgia

Dominion Coal and Wood Ltd. silos, Merton Street, southwest corner of Mount Pleasant Road, Toronto, Ont Image c/o Toronto Public Library Archives, 1981

Dominion Coal and Wood Ltd. silos, Merton Street, southwest corner of Mount Pleasant Road, Toronto, Ont
Image c/o Toronto Public Library Archives, 1981

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.

Mount Pleasant and Merton, looking South Photo Credit:  Robert J. Sandusky , November 29, 1975

Mount Pleasant and Merton, looking South
Photo Credit: Robert J. Sandusky, November 29, 1975

Photo: Davisville Post 2019

Photo: Davisville Post 2019

Mural Painted in 2014  by students at  Greenwood School  to represent the Belt Line, Mount Pleasant Village and the Dominion Coal and Wood Silos Photo: Davisville Post 2019

Mural Painted in 2014 by students at Greenwood School to represent the Belt Line, Mount Pleasant Village and the Dominion Coal and Wood Silos
Photo: Davisville Post 2019

Davisville in 1907 - part of "Toronto's Healthiest and Most Beautiful Suburb"

Davisville in 1907 - part of "Toronto's Healthiest and Most Beautiful Suburb"