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The Beach Triangle Residents Association, Toronto, Ontario

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Home History: 1800 Queen Street East

By John Ellis
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1800 Queen Street East, owned by Edythe Gerrard, is one of the four or five oldest houses in the Triangle. The very useful photo taken from the Fire Hall tower in 1902 shows only the two houses on Queen near Woodbine (still standing), the odd building formerly on the corner of Rainsford Road (demolished to make way for the condo), and a house and out-buildings in the distance near Kingston Road. The latter dwelling was probably the home of Joseph Duggan, who owned the entire Triangle and the land south of Queen where the Woodbine (later "Greenwood") Race Course was built.

The earliest record found for 1800 Queen East is in the 1902 Assessment Roll: "Unfinished House" on Lot 9, valued at $750. The home was built by James Lumbers, of General Trucking Corporation at 67 Front Street, and the property was owned by his wife, Maria. She continued to own and rent the house until at least 1911, when the value of the lot and building had skyrocketed to $1,975! The Lumbers family owned several Triangle properties, including the lot to the west of 1800 Queen and lots 14 and 15 to the east, as well as others within the area.

Like several of the houses on Queen, the purpose was for renting to tenants. Records were checked to 1911, all showing the house still owned by Maria Lumbers and being rented. The first residents of 1800 Queen were Harry Elliott, 38 years old, a Motorman (a transit driver, probably on the Queen Street route), his wife and child. They were Church of England (Anglican). By 1908, Henry and family had moved on (the 1911 Canada Census shows Henry and Mabel, and their five daughters, living in Scarborough). Next, John Dick, a 44-year old printer lived there with his wife and two children.

No certain records on this Elliott family have been found. Considerable records were found on Henry Edward Elliott, born 11 June 1881, who married Mabel Beatrice Dew Hewlett in Scarborough on 8 April 1901. Pointers to these being the Harry Elliott family of 1800 Queen East:

Somewhat at odds with Henry Edward being the first resident at 1800 Queen East is the indication that there were six residents there in 1906, while Henry, Mabel and their two daughters would have constituted only four. However, there might have been other family members or boarders with them then.

Henry's dad, William Henry Elliott, was a jeweller, a profession Henry eventually adopted according to his WWI Attestation Paper dated 12 September 1916. He and Mable lived at 99 Victoria Park Avenue, a very nice home near Neil McNeil School in Scarborough.

Very rich texture is added to the history of 1800 Queen Street in the words of Edythe Gerrard:

I bought the house in 1977 and raised three teenagers here. I was widowed when I was 34 and buying this house was a major step for me and my children. Three children and six grandchildren have left their mark here. I have a wall with lots of marks that show the grandkids growing from tiny to taller than me. I even have the measure of an invisible friend who kept my granddaughter company. She is now 25 and there she is, growing up on a wall at 1800 Queen.
We are long-time Torontonians. My Mom lived over a butcher shop at Queen and Scarborough Road when she was young. Her mother's people were carters who lived on Niagara Street in the 1840s. My father was in the first confirmation class at the church. It is very interesting that the first owner was a 'motorman' - my Dad worked for the TTC for 43 years. My grandfather was the police desk sergeant at Division 55. My Nana Fitz came from Ireland to work at the doctor's home at Swanwick and Main. My granddaughter was the fourth generation to go to Malvern.
1800 was a rooming house. There were even rooms in the basement with no apparent attempt to cover the low ceiling. The house was originally a two up and two down. The kitchen, back bedroom and the one storey back room are all add-ons. The basement is only a half basement. When we had to put heating into the back room we found the crawl space filled with empty liquor bottles. The garden was a giant mess with over-grown shingles lying on the ground and yet more bottles. The lilacs were there, however. Don't they always remind you that someone cared? I always think they survive to remember other owners. The neighbours must have loved living next door.
The previous owner had done a renovation job in the kitchen and the bathroom but unfortunately it was basically a 'lipstick' job. The plumbing and wiring looked great but were not attached inside the wall. When we moved in, my son took a shower and water poured out of the ceiling in the living room! We couldn't cook because we had no electricity in the kitchen, and we had to use the washroom at the donut store. But no matter - I loved this house from the day I first walked through the door and I still do. I thought I might sell this spring but I am just not ready to let go.

It is clear that after 75 years, in 1977, 1800 Queen Street found in Edythe Gerrard someone to love and keep her.