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Exploring South Etobicoke’s hidden stories through Postcards

A dirt road lined with shops leading to a park entrance

When displayed alongside each other, our collection shows Long Branch’s transition from exclusive resort to public grounds and year-round residences. The area West of Toronto, from Long Branch to Port Credit, was popular from the 1880s to the 1930s for wealthy vacationers seeking a waterfront escape.

Originally, Long Branch Park’s cottage industry was designed as an exclusive getaway within a day’s travel from the city for Toronto’s elite, featuring the Long Branch Hotel and cottage properties.

Two people walking across a bridge over a river at dawn
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Long Branch Park was enclosed by a 12-foot high iron bound fence with the main entrance marked by two brick pillars and a locked gate that was monitored by guards. Vacationers traveled from Toronto on leisurely cruises by private steamship, The Rupert, and other vacation ships including The Greyhound, The J. W. Steinhoff, and White Star.

A TTC streetcar parked in by the lake in the shade of several tall trees
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The introduction of the Mimico, Long Branch, and Port Credit streetcars, which became part of the Toronto and York Radial Railway in 1906, opened access to would-be cottagers who could not previously afford to travel here. 

As transit systems developed, namely the formation of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) in 1921, Torontonians were able to travel across the city without paying multiple fares to separate transit companies. This ease of access and affordability allowed a wider range of people from different classes to access the area as the TTC competed with the expensive ferries which previously swam unopposed.

A streetcar parked on an unpaved city street

The advent of increased transportation options in the area led to the development of a year-round neighbourhood over the first half of the twentieth century. Former cottages were winterized to be used as permanent homes, and several residents opened small businesses to serve the local community. 


Most of these old cottages have since been demolished in favour of apartment buildings to accommodate a growing population of workers. The construction of the transit system alongside these new developments was essential for local economic and residential expansion. Streetcars continue to be the choice of transit on the Lakeshore Grounds.


Curated by:
Nadine Finlay
Sarah LeFresne

Virtual Exhibition Curated by:
Nadia Tagoe


Humber Lakeshore Campus is currently closed to visitors.

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